Saturday, November 6, 2010

Post-Mortem on 2010 races

Professor Brad; M.E. Report and observations on the aftermath of the 2010 elections

The Political Pulse was correct on the vast majority of pre-election predictions.

The two MA races that I got wrong were Mary Z. for Auditor and Question 1 losing. Some of my percentages were off as I underestimated the strength of the Democrat's ground game (more on this below). Many of my Republican friends were objecting to my predictions, but having studied politics in Massachusetts for a looong time, I saw things trending otherwise.

On the US Senate side, I got most of the tossup races correct as well, with the exception of Nevada (looks like the polling underestimated Hispanic turnout for Reid)

I will grade myself a B+/A- on these predictions. Nice to grade oneself, my students must wish they could do the same!

Ground game beats air game

The vaunted Democratic machine was caught napping in last January's special election, coupled with a most uninspiring candidate in Coakley. Scott Brown demonstrated that for a Republican to win (especially statewide) that they need to field almost the "perfect" candidate who can generate enthusiasm and draw out all possible Republican votes. In short, the Republicans enthusiasm this time around was not where it was in January and the Dems over-performed.

I had the fortune to attend MassInc's electoral wrap-up yesterday at Suffolk University. What was most interesting was the inside story of the Democrat's GOTV effort. In short, in the weeks leading up to the election nearly every registered Democrat in the state got a phone call and/or knock on the door urging them to vote. Additionally on election day itself, party organizers were checking to see who had and who had not voted and turning out folks in the afternoon who had not shown up in the morning., This was probably the best ground game that I have ever seen and it contributed to Patrick's seven point victory. Only the Suffolk poll saw this gap (Rasmussen had it a two point race). The Democrat's machine got voters out who never would have shown up without this urging.

Unfortunately for Baker and the Republicans, they just don't have the resources to turn out votes. Baker was nowhere near as inspiring as Brown and while Baker did win where he needed to, his wins were far less impressive than Brown's (averaging about 10 points below where Brown was in each community). Western Mass and the urban areas came out very strong for the democrats. The Republicans did win in areas where they needed to, but again not by the margins necessary to win a statewide race.

Another result of this was the Democrats capturing every other major office in the state. This is why I was wrong on Mary Z. (who did come within two points of Suzanne Bump). The strength of the Dems turnout swamped all Republican statewide and congressional candidates.

Kudos to Democratic Party Chair John Walsh for showing that the old-fashioned ground war beats the air war almost every time. Republicans need to hustle like that.

Limited split-ticket voting

Many of these new voters who the Democratic machine brought out voted for Patrick...and then for every other candidate with a "D" after their name. As stated before, this contributed to the losses by Mary Z. and Karyn Polito.

The Gender Gap was real and pronounced

MassInc's post-election polling showed a 24 point gender gap for Patrick among women and a
13 point gap for Baker among male voters. Female voters were also more likely to be optimistic about the Commonwealth's direction and Patrick's generally upbeat campaign likely appealed to these voters. Interestingly 50% of voters saw Massachusetts as on the "right track" so maybe the fact that we are slightly better off than much of the nation helped incumbent Democrats here.

Polling models varied and were often incorrect

Rasmussen who has had a previously impeccable track record seems to have slipped this cycle and overestimated Republican vote totals. Turnout models will need tweaking. Additionally as cell phones continue to replace home phones especially among younger (and more liberal) folks, this makes gathering a true stratified sample all the more challenging. Kudos to Suffolk for getting it right!

Question 3 drove Democratic intensity

Opposition to Question 3 brought the ire of unions, state employees, and progressives and helped "gin up" turnout buoyed by a massive "No on 3" ad campaign over the final weeks. Republicans would be wise to steer clear of over-reach on questions that can directly threaten the livelihood of those who can turn out many voters. A cut to 5% would have been most advisable as it would have passed and would not have awoken the twin sleeping giants of organized labor and public employees...

Tim Cahill hurt Baker, but can't be blamed for Baker's loss

Cahill's candidacy certainly forced Baker to spend money and resources to knock him out of the top tier which he was able to successfully do. However, the presence of Cahill and Jill Stein in all of the debates limited Baker's one on one match-up against Patrick and distracted him throughout. The Loscocco fiasco was handled VERY poorly by Baker's team and contributed to the notion that it was a backroom deal. This really undercut Baker's argument that he was a reformer.

Optimism trumps pessimism

Patrick's upbeat campaign contrasted with Baker's campaign that focused on what was wrong with the state. Brown demonstrated how an optimistic approach can work with the right message and Patrick accomplished the same thing.

Voter anger cannot push sub-par candidates to victory in most cases

The Republicans had a real shot at capturing one or two congressional seats, but lost in large part to less than stellar candidates. Quality candidates are a must to unseat an incumbent.

Bright spots for Republicans in Massachusetts

Tough to see at first glance, but...wining (depending on recounts) 16 new House seats in the State Legislature which double their numbers is certainly a victory and serves to build a grassroots organization to capture more offices down the line (yes - a farm team). Capturing two seats on the Governor's Council and the Sheriff's seat of Worcester County also were big wins for a party looking for any good news on Tuesday.

However they are now down to 4 (count 'em 4) Senators in the State Senate. Being down 36 to 4 is simply embarassing.

Notice that the Republicans continue to win on the North and South Shores and seem to really be establishing a real base in Worcester County. This may be the launching pad to some semblance of a two-party system in time.

And Finally...

Nationwide the Republicans swept over 60 seats to capture the House and picked up seven in the US Senate where the margin narrows to 53-47. The Tea Party had mixed results in terms of candidates it ran (Paul win in KY, Angle loses in NV). For the President, this was a real "shellacking" and it remains to be seen if he becomes Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton/Harry Truman in his run for re-election. More on this in my next post as we turn to the national results.

Only 456 days until the 2012 Iowa Caucuses...Onwards!

The Prof

Monday, November 1, 2010

Final Fearless Predictions

The count is down to precious hours - so time for The Prof to issue his final airtight predictions on the races in Massachusetts and a few nationwide for good measure...I may be dead on or end up with an omelet on my face Wednesday morning.

These are my best educated guesses. I wanted to flip a coin on a couple of these, but went with my gut and instinct.

Statewide Offices

Governor - Patrick
Patrick 48
Baker 46
Cahill 5
Stein 1

Patrick takes this in a late night squeaker. However, I am not terribly confident in my prediction as Baker seems to have the more enthusiastic supporters, but I simply don't see the same enthusiasm that Scott Brown built up in January. Remember that Brown only won by a few points with everything breaking his way. Massachusetts is still as Jon Keller has said, the Bluest State.

That being said, I believe that Baker (if he loses) could have taken this race, but a mostly sub-par campaign and Cahill bleeding anti-Patrick votes mark this as an opportunity missed.

Turnout matters most as I have often said. Watch the early returns from bellweather communities. If they are close we will be in a for a late evening.

Attorney General - Coakley
Coakley 61
McKenna 39

McKenna surprised many by getting on the ballot as a write-in, but he doesn't get more than the core Republican vote. Martha wins a number of ticket-splitters.

Treasurer - Grossman
Grossman 51
Polito 49

This race really is a toss-up and I debated the coin toss here. I think Grossman pulls this out due to again this being such a blue state with Polito's license plate controversy of last week tipping the race his way. However, I would not be shocked whatsoever if Polito pulls this out with strong support from Central Mass.

Auditor - Mary Z. Connaughton
Mary Z. 53
Bump 47

One bright spot for Republicans is this real chance to win one statewide office. Mary Z. has campaigned as an competent accountant and long-timepol Suzanne Bump has had several stumbles, especially the one about her principal (or was it her primary) residence.

Secretary of State - Galvin
Galvin 63
Campbell 37

Yawn...The Prince of Darkness (Galvin's nickname when he was in the State Legislature) gets elected yet again...

Congressional Districts

Dems likely to sweep all races...

3rd District
McGovern 56
Lamb 44

Jim McGovern is well-liked and machine-backed. Though much more liberal than the district, he fends off a challenge from newcomer Marty Lamb.

4th District
Frank 54
Beilat 46

Although Frank will have a much-closer race than has has since elected in 1982, having strong support in Newton, Brookline, and Fall River should be enough. But watch Sean Bielat to have a career in font of him as he has run a very spirited campaign and has thrown a real scare into the long-time incumbent.

5th District (Prof's home district)
Tsongas 55
Golnick 45

This is a textbook case in a vulnerable, yet well-financed incumbent winning in part due to a challenger with just too little financing and organization.

6th District (Prof''s old home district)
Tierney 53
Hudack 47

Closest race for John Tierney since 1996. If Hudack had not had so many "issues" the scandal-linked Tierney would have been ripe for the pickin'...this really was missed GOP opportunity. Kerry Healy or Bruce Tarr would have won.

10th District
Keating 48
Perry 46
Independents 6

This open seat was leaning toward Perry until old, but significant scandals from the 1990s were brought to the forefront. Keating is a relatively weak challenger, but may back into this seat due to female votes bleeding from Perry due to the nature of the strip-search incidents in his past. However, Perry does have a shot at winning this if turnout on the Cape is high and low in the Democratic stronghold of Quincy.

Ballot Questions

All three ballot questions go down. Typically many voter's default position is to vote no on ballot questions unless strongly convinced otherwise.

#1 on repealing the sales tax on alcohol loses 58-42

#2 on repealing Chapter 40B dealing with low-income housing fails 57-43.

#3 on rolling the state sales tax from 6.25% to 3% loses 54-46. This has generated the most interest and advertising. If the supporters of this question had not over-reached and rolled it back to 5%, it would have passed easily.

State Legislature

In the Statehouse, Republicans make modest gains in the House (5-10 net seats) and break even in the Senate. In other words - still a tiny minority.

And Finally - some national races

The Republicans (needing 39 seats) take the House, handily winning between 55 and 60 seats. This is not quite a Tsunami, but a very large wave none-the-less.

In the Senate the Democrats hold on to their majority - barely. Republicans almost run the table...some of the closely watched ones.

NV - Angle beats Reid by more than expected. The Tea Party is the real deal, now let them govern and see if it doesn't splinter. Governing is a whole different game than campaigning.

PA - Toomey beats Sestack, but may require a recount.

WA - This could be another recount in the making , but Murray barely holds on against Rossi.

FL - Hello Senator Rubio - a rising star in the GOP. Meeks comes in 3d place. Crist made no friends though all this and is unwelcome at all cocktail parties after Tuesday...

WI - Johnson beats Finegold; sometimes being a maverick, just ain't enough when there is a wave...

CA - Boxer holds on in true blue CA against Fiorina. This is an example of a bad challenger losing to a bad incumbent...bonus call- CA Governor: Jerry "Moonbeam :)" Brown win election as well - wasn't he the around in the 1870's...

WV - Governor Manchin created enough space between him and the President to barely prevail against Raese.

KY - The Tea Party wins again with Paul handily beating Conway.

DE - Coons beats O'Donnell where the Tea Party should have been more pragmatic and ended up sacrificing a gimme pickup on the alter of ideological purity. Is she a I want to go into the infamous Monty Python Routine - which I can recite verbatim!

We will see how I do in a few short hours...


The Prof

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New polling - Gov. Race closing...

The last Rasmussen poll of 750 likely voters shows some possible momentum for Baker over the past week.

Patrick 46%
Baker 44
Cahill 6
Stein 2

A StateHouse News poll of likely voters conducted last week also showed a three point Patrick advantage.

Below is the updated chart of the Rasmussen polling since last March.

All of the polls have shown the race to be tied factoring in the margin of error. However, bear in mind that Patrick has had a consistent lead throughout, but also that the polls have also showed some tightening over the past week. Baker may have a bit of momentum as his final debate performance was better, although Patrick has remained nearly mistake-free throughout this campaign.

Patrick has been running very well among his base of liberals, voters with post-graduate educations, urban voters, younger voters, and is doing well among females where has holds a ten point lead. Baker is faring well among Independents (a 15 point lead, but he needs to get more of them to win), has a substantial lead among male voters, and is doing well in regions where Scott Brown did back in January.

However, in recent days Patrick has mentioned that he is open to considering tax increases which Baker has pounced on with new ads that will be running all weekend. I would think Patrick's handlers must have been beside themselves that Patrick would talk of this during the final week of a close campaign.

Typical of third party candidates such as Cahill is that they usually fade as many voters who may have been initially sympathetic want to vote for candidates who have a realistic chance of winning at the end of the day. Cahill may do well in his hometown of Quincy (where some speculate that he may run for Mayor), but I doubt if he will end with more than 5% of the total vote.

My assessment (for today) is that this is a very close race, but Patrick retains a slight advantage. I will post my final predictions on Monday.

Things to expect over the next 72 hours...

This is now a pure turnout game with the campaigns working to motivating their base vote and getting them to show up on Tuesday. Both candidates will be running advertising, placing calls to individual voters, and crisscross the state holding rallies in their key areas.

Baker will be focusing on areas that went big for Scott Brown in the 495 suburbs along with Worcester County, the North and South Shores, and the Cape. He is also going to be working on blue collar communities (Lowell, Worcester) to try to attract conservative Democrats. His challenge is that his campaign has not been exactly "inspiring". He has to keep framing this as a discussion of continuing the status quo (Patrick) or to embrace change (Baker) and to motivate and convince voters who are upset with the current direction of the state, tax increases, and the frustrating lack of reform. He has to show himself as the only alternative.

Patrick will focus in his urban bases of Boston, Fall River/New Bedford, Middlesex County, and liberal Western Massachusetts. Much of his pitch will be to motivate progressives in the leafy suburbs along with female voters who are favorably inclined to his reelection. Patrick needs to continue capitalizing on the perceptions that he is a calm and reasonable leader and that Baker would be the wrong direction to go for those who value human services and a compassionate government.

72 hours and counting...

The Prof

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Patrick maintains lead going into the final stretch

Just a short post this evening - the latest Rasmussen survey of 750 likely voters (taken Oct. 16-17) shows the following:

Patrick 47%
Baker 42
Cahill 6
Stein 1
Undecided 3

Yes, I know that this is within the margin of error BUT...after seeing a slew of polls all showing Patrick with a 4-6 point leads, I believe that this is pretty close to where the actual electorate would vote, providing the election was held today. Baker can still turn this around (look for some Hail Mary's to shake up the race) over the next 12 day, but he needs to turn the momentum around. Note that only a few voters are still undecided, but the soft supporters for any candidate can still be turned.

Patrick looks to be on his way to a close reelection - provided he goes mistake free over the next several days and has a decent GOTV program. He has run a positive and professional campaign and this aided by Baker's not defining himself early (like last spring) and the Cahill/Baker squabble has enabled him to run as the happy reformer and stay out of the muck. His numbers are still poor in terms of overall approval, but Baker needs to give folks a reason to vote for him. Being the anti-Patrick is not going to be enough.

Baker is finally running some good contrast ads - we'll see if they are enough to keep Patrick from sealing the deal.

In his latest ads Patrick continues to instill doubts regarding Baker's stewardship of Harvard-Pilgrim. This may be effective as HMOs are not well regarded by the voting public and I am sure Patrick's campaign has data that backs this up.

A lot can happen and this is far from over - but I am upping the odds for Patrick from 60% to 65% likelihood for reelection.

Onwards (to Nov.2)!!

The Prof

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Polling models - why do they vary?

More polling data is out in the wake of the Cahill debacle of the past two weeks.

Suffolk University poll - October 14
Patrick 46
Baker 39
Cahill 10
Stein 1

The results suggest that Patrick has indeed helped his own position by remaining above the Baker-Cahill fray. Patrick is enjoying an 11 point lead over Baker among female voters (male voters are essentially splitting between them) and has amassed a large lead in the urban core around Boston and liberal Western Massachusetts.

The bad news for Baker is that he simply is not getting much momentum and the polling suggests that Patrick is drawing enough of former Cahill adherents to maintain his lead.

Patrick continues to struggle though with high (44%) disapproval ratings. I think that he is heading toward a narrow victory due to him being a good campaigner with strong base support and Charlie Baker just hasn't caught fire.

Interestingly, there is an Opinion Dynamics poll out last week as well that is showing Baker with a five point lead. (37% to 32%) over Patrick However, I am waiting for the next Rasmussen poll as I find their methodology to be closest to the actual vote. They use a model that seems to be very reflective of reality and really gets at voter intensity and motivation as those are key turnout components.

One thing that all (except for the Opinion Dynamics poll) of these polls are showing is a consistent Patrick lead of 4 to 7 points. Consistency over time is an indication that the polling is indeed correct.

Any reputable poll has a model for turnout - in other words, an educated guess as to what the voter demographics and turnout rate will be on election day. This is drawn from past elections and current trends and is very open to different interpretations. For example if a pollster believes that rural and suburban independents will turn out in high numbers and urban voters will have an average turnout - advantage Republicans. If the model shows a high big city turnout the Democratic candidates will benefit. The polling reflects the assumptions that pollsters make. They do make mistakes of course as in a close race like this one, just a little turnout variation can produce results that are contradictory to the polls.

Who shows up on Nov. 2 in Massachusetts? Will it be the Tea Party activists looking to kick out incumbents or are public employee unions showing up to uphold the Democratic Party dominance? This is why the advertising is so intense along with phone banks. It's all about GOTV (get out the vote) at this stage of the game. Who has a better ground game in a close race like this will likely remain victorious.

My money is still on Patrick and I give him 60/40 odds on winning on Nov. 2- but Baker still has a window to catch him. However, it is closing by the day and Baker needs to get the Cahill distraction behind him and get back on track and on message. The endorsement he received from former Democratic AG Tom Reilly may be the start of this.

16 days to go - time is short!!


The Prof

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wild week!!

This past week has been one of the most intense that I ever seen in my years of analyzing Massachusetts politics. Lets re-visit this ongoing train wreck:

Reacting to Lt. Gov. candidate's Paul Loscocco's switch (defection) to the Baker camp along with other top operatives, Tim Cahill in addition to publicly calling this a "backroom deal" filed a lawsuit against his former allies last week. The suit alleges that they had divulged confidential material to Baker from Cahill's campaign. In reaction Cahill's former chief consultant, John Weaver is counter-charging that the Massachusetts State Lottery (run by Cahill as the sitting State Treasurer) is running ads designed to boost Cahill's standing which runs afoul of campaign laws.

In a further twist, on Friday Loscocco alleged collusion between Cahill's and Governor Patrick's media people to coordinate negative attack ads on the Baker campaign. Thus far the allegations are unsubstantiated.

OK, my head is spinning too! Conventional wisdom has been stood on its head and it is hard to determine right now how all of this affects the eventual outcome, 24 days hence. Who knows what next week will bring as allegations and counter-charges are likely to continue flying.

As for the two candidates who have any business thinking that they can win it is certainly a distraction at best and a crippling blow at worst for Baker. This sucks the oxygen out of his message of reform and lower taxes as he has to react to Cahill's broadsides. As I predicted last week, Cahill now appears to be concentrating on playing a spoiler and seems to be singularly focused on preventing Baker from winning.

Governor Patrick thus far has remained above this fray and is benefiting as seeming to be above this destructive Baker-Cahill battle which will not endear either of them to increasingly disgruntled and cynical electorate. The danger for Patrick is that if any documentation comes to light that there was any coordination between his campaign and Cahill's that it may result in political rigor mortis for the already unpopular incumbent. His strategy rests on the anti-Patrick vote (around 55% to 60%) being split.

What happens here remains to be seen. I still think the physics of this campaign continue to favor Patrick. Rasmussen should have new polling out this week which will establish any new trends. When it is published there will be some idea of what affects the last couple of weeks have yielded.


The Prof

Friday, October 1, 2010

Camp Cahill's Chaos Continues

hmmm - the title of this post sounds like something Howard Cosell may have said...

Tim Cahill's campaign continues its implosion. This is like an accident where the cars continue to pile up - even when you think it can't get much worse.

This morning Lt. Gubernatorial candidate and Cahill running mate Paul Loscocco unexpectedly withdrew from the race and very publicly endorsed Charlie Baker. Loscocco emphasized that Cahill's candidacy was only helping Deval Patrick by splitting the considerable anti-Patrick sentiment.

Cahill dashed any speculation that he was leaving the race and vowed to fight it out until the end. The $750,000 in state matching campaign funds that he received this week will help him stick around for the next 31 days.

I think it is interesting gaming the motivation that compels Cahill to stay in the race after the departure of Loscocco, Cahill's campaign manager, and a top campaign strategist. I see several possible scenarios unfolding:

Scenario I - Cahill fights to the bitter end and runs equally hard at both Patrick and Baker in terms of advertising and message. This keeps him viable if he decides to launch another statewide run in 2012 or 2014. 40%

Scenario II - Cahill runs almost exclusively against Baker reprising Christy Mihos' campaign in 2006. This would be payback for the Republican Governors Association's ad campaign that has raised Cahill's negatives. However, it would damage his credibility as a truly independent outsider. 50%

Scenario III - Cahill drops out of the race prior to Nov. 2 possibly endorsing Patrick. Republicans would then be able to yell "I told you he was a straw - the fix is in!" 10%

Scenario IV - Cahill drops out and endorses Baker (NOT Happenin'!) 0%

The not-so-stealth attempt by Baker and his allies to knock Cahill out of this race has not succeeded, but it has seriously compromised his candidacy. Today may be seen as one of those moments where even the most optimistic Cahill supporters became convinced that it simply is not going to happen this year.

This is truly a shot in the arm for the somewhat underperforming Baker candidacy and will be keeping Patrick's advisers up at night since this may turn it into the two-person race that could be devastating to Deval's hopes of a second term. I have noted that Patrick's campaign is calling this a backroom deal and is openly courting Cahill voters - which included the Governor doing some impromptu bar tending in Cahill's hometown of Quincy today.

The most recent Rasmussen poll has Patrick up by about six points in the three way race (sorry Jill Stein, but you won't get any more than 2 or 3 points at the end of the day). Cahill supporters seem evenly divided among the top two candidates if asked what they would do if they had to choose Patrick or Baker.

However, my political instincts tell me that Charlie would benefit more than Deval from any drop in Cahill's support. These are disillusioned voters who are not happy with the status quo and Baker would be the only other candidate representing change. Of course some are die-hard Democrats who would not vote for a Republican and some will not vote at all without Cahill as an option. But it seems that both Baker and Patrick are viewing it this way - at least their campaigns are behaving as such.

Fasten your seat belts and if the campaign keeps up like this, tighten your straitjacket!


The Prof

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cahill in Chaos

Stop press!

Tim Cahill's campaign manager and another senior advisor have resigned over the past 24 hours. Campaign consultant Tom Weaver resigned citing that Cahill could not realistically win and was aiding Governor Patrick by staying in the race.

This may well result in further bleeding of both voters and fundraising potential for Cahill. I think he will stay in the race, but will diminish as a factor. The recent polling suggests that Cahill's voters, if pushed are splitting slightly in Baker's favor so at least the conventional wisdom would suggest this would be a plus for Baker.

We shall see...stay tuned.

The Prof

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fearless Predictions!

46 days to e-day and after gazing into my crystal must be noted that University of Virginia's Larry Sabato says that those who live by the crystal ball end up eating ground glass. Nonetheless, my initial predictions for the statewide and congressional offices are going up.

Tuesday's Primary turnout was a little over 14% which was quite low by Massachusetts standards. The lack of a contested gubernatorial race for either party likely depressed voter interest and intensity. However, turnout was higher in areas like the 10th Congressional District where there were spirited primaries for both parties.

*Note on the predictions for the below races - the likely victorious candidate's party will be indicated by Republican Red or Democratic Blue.

State Constitutional Offices

Governor - I will write more on this in the next few days, but suffice to say the latest Rasmussen poll published today indicate that it is neck and neck between Baker and Patrick (Patrick is up by 4 points, well within the margin of error) and that Cahill's support is beginning to fade. However, I still have to give Deval the edge as he has consistently led in pre-election polling, but this can go either way and will be fought bitterly down to the wire.

Prediction - 53% chance of a Patrick victory (Cahill is officially at 0% viability now)

Treasurer - This race lines up Shrewsbury Rep Karyn Polito against long-time Democratic party activist Steve Grossman. Grossman will have a considerable financial edge, but Polito is an attractive outsider in what is gearing up to be an outsider year.

Prediction 55% chance of a Polito victory

Secretary of State - Long-time incumbent William Galvin should have little difficulty dispatching Woburn Republican William Campbell.

State Auditor - Suzanne Bump dispatched Guy Glodis rather easily in the Democratic Primary drawing upon the liberals who typically dominate these affairs. She won by large margins in the "Happy Valley" and leafy Boston suburbs and by decent margins in most communities outside of Worcester County. Glodis did win many of the communities in his Worcester County base, but underperformed on his own "turf" and only won his hometown of Worcester by a dozen points.

She will face off against Republican Mary Z. Connaughton on November 2. I see this being a slight advantage for the Republican with her outsider status (Bump has a long history on Beacon Hill). I also think that some disgruntled Glodis supporters in Central Mass may throw Connaughton their vote.

Prediction: 60% chance of a Connaughton victory

Congressional Seats

1st District - This liberal Western Massachusetts district will send John Olver back for another term.

2nd District - Democrat Richard Neal will defeat newcomer Tom Wesley, but it may be a closer race than usual for the longtime incumbent

3rd District - Incumbent Jim McGovern will beat Marty Lamb (a Tea Party favorite), but like Neal he will have to work at it. Without his base of Worcester and Fall River securely in his pocket, McGovern would have a real fight on his hands.

4th district - Barney Frank, longtime bane of conservatives will beat newcomer Sean Bielet, but may be held under 60% of the vote for the first time since 1982 when he was first elected.

5th District (The Prof's home district) -This could be a competitive race. Incumbent Niki Tsongas has the edge, but the Merrimack and Nashoba Valleys are conservative (by Massachusetts standards) regions. This may provide hope for Republican Jon Golnick who will have some national party backing.

Prediction: 65% chance of a Tsongas victory

6th District (The Prof's former home district) - like the 5th, Essex County is one of the more "conservative" regions of the commonwealth. Incumbent John Tierny has not had a serious race for some time, but will have one this year against Bill Hudack.

Prediction: 60% chance of a Tierney victory

7th District - The Dean of the Delegation, Ed Markey will have no problem winning re-election against Gerry Dembrowski.

8th District - Mike Capuano is unopposed.

9th District - Steven Lynch survived a primary challenge from the Left and will defeat Vernon Harrison.

10th District -This is where the fireworks will be! This wide-open district (incumbent William Dellahunt is retiring) will be a true barn burner. Republican State Rep Jeff Perry of Sandwich brings a populist conservative message and some personal baggage that is already being raised as a campaign issue by Democratic nominee Norfolk County DA William Keating. Republican and Democratic turn out was almost even in the primary which tells me that South Shore and Cape Republicans are highly energized and the national Republican Party will pour money into this race to try and steal a Massachusetts seat. It just may work too..

Prediction: 51% chance of a Perry victory. (This is really a toss-up, but felt like using red font)

Onwards to November!

The Prof

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Massachusetts 2010 Primary Results

PlaceHolder posting... to be updated shortly...

Primary results will be in this evening along with my take on how the night unfolded. Additionally, I will go out on a wire and make some predictions for many of the "down the ballot races" in November.

Vote early and often (just kidding - often is all that counts)

The Prof

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Debate #1 - grades

And it's a wrap on the first gubernatorial debate!

First off, John Keller gets an A for moderating and keeping the contestants under a modicum of control.

The debate ranged from carefully planned and delivered sound bytes to a wideranging and spirited discussion. No major mistakes were evident and all four candidates were prepared.

Deval Patrick ended up with a B plus bordering on A minus. He is an experienced debater and for the most part was in command of the facts. He was able to avoid many (but not all) of Charlie's jabs. He clearly was talking up accomplishments (as he sees it) of his administration. He was under attack from the Left courtesy of Jill Stein and constantly attempted to remain the "reasonable" one in the room. Patrick is very skilled at this and acquited himself well. He may be losing some of the more left-wing Democrats to Stein, but most will come home by November.

Charlie Baker positioned himself as the only major candidate not currently on Beacon Hill. He took heat from all the others on his tenure at Harvard-Pilgrim and rising health insurance premium costs along with his ties to the Big Dig. However, he was able to parry those for the most part and tried to keep the debate framed as a race between him and Patrick whilst trying to either ignore Cahill or tie him to the power machine of Beacon Hill. He fired numerous jabs at Patrick and showed more spirit than I had anticipated. Solid B Plus.

Tim Cahill had me thinking that he was trying to channel Ronald Reagan on fiscal policy and certainly positioned himself as Mr. Conservative. How successful he was at this remains to be seen. He was not as aggressive as Baker or Patrick and directed more of his fire at Baker as they are going after the same type of voters. Overall he may have captured some of the more disillusioned voters, but I am not sure that he catapulted himself as a truly viable candidate. The Prof gives him a gentleman's B minus (almost a C plus, but I am in a good mood) for committing no major gaffes, but it also reflects a lack of aggressiveness and the jury remains out on whether or not he really wants the job.

Jill Stein gets a well deserved A minus, not due to any ideological lean (The Prof is oh so boringly non-partisan in this blog) but due to command of issues (Green Energy being overstated a bit after an hour) and the passion of a true believer. She likely earned some points among true liberals and she forced Patrick to cover his left flank.

I will be attending next week's debate as it is open to the public. 'Tis the season...


The Prof

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

61 days to E-Day

Just a short update for today...back to teaching for the semester but will have a lot to share over the next several weeks regarding "E-Day" on November 2. My plan is to keep following the local Massachusetts races and also to take a detailed look at the nationwide races for the Senate and House.

What happens in November will directly impact how the Obama Administration finishes the final years of its initial term. Partisan control of Congress switching in one or both houses will impact what the President can - and cannot do going into his own reelection in 2012.

Will "Tea" be on the menu after November? Methinks it is a distinct possibility...


The Prof

Thursday, July 29, 2010

45% in November should be enough

94 days until November 2 and "E-Day" in the Commonwealth and across the nation...

Joan Venochi had a insightful column in today's Boston Globe asking what "vote percentage" does Patrick need to win in November. Professor Brad says garnering 42% should likely do it - assuming Cahill remains in the race of course.

This 45% number would also apply to Baker and is what I would consider the magic over/under figure. Cahill should poll slightly better in November than Christy Mihos did in 2006 as he has statewide name recognition and enough money to run and organize a statewide campaign - this is not an insurgency. That said, third party candidates typically end up doing worse then they are showing in the polls due to many voters who may be sympathetic to that candidate not wanting to waste their vote whilst in the booth. Many of them ending up holding their nose and voting for the lesser of evils of the candidates who they believe can actually win. Yes that last sentence was full of cliches, but it is true!

Mihos ended up with 7% in 2006 after polling between 10-15% during the summer of 2006. I suspect Cahill can end up with 9% at the least (he is polling somewhat better than Mihos at the same stage of the campaign). Although none of the current polling reflects Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein, she will likely draw a percentage or two from Patrick's left flank. Thus if Cahill and Stein combined can take 11% of the vote (and this is a floor, not a ceiling) Baker and Patrick will fight over the 89% remaining - quick division tells me that 45% would be the threshold to win.

Scenario I (Likely worst case for Cahill)

Patrick 45
Baker 44
Cahill 9
Stein 2

Scenario II (Cahill Overperforms)

Patrick 42
Baker 38
Cahill 18
Stein 2

Scenario III (let's give one to Charlie)

Patrick 42
Baker 44
Cahill 12
Stein 2

On the polling front...Rasmussen released another poll last week in a series of polls that will run once a month and then every two weeks by late October. Below is a chart of the Rasmussen results thus far (Got a bit Excel happy today!)

Deval Patrick's numbers are in a bit of a slide from his May highs. In a normal year an incumbent polling under 40% would be in the political morgue, but this ain't a normal year.

Charlie Baker remains stuck in neutral. This must be frustrating as he gets 30% for having the R next to his name, but can't build on it. He is simply running a mediocre campaign thus far and has a problem with his unfavorables - we will get to this shortly.

Cahill continues to poll in the mid to high teens peeling potential Baker voters away - something that Governor Patrick must be VERY thankful for!

Curiously, those who are in the "not sure" category have jumped a bit in the past month. It may that people are simply not paying attention during the hot New England summer, but I wonder if this coupled with the less than stellar candidate favorability numbers mean that voters simply are not enthusiastic about any of these candidates.

Bear in mind that there is nearly a 5% margin of error so there is also statistical noise here as well. However, I would feel safe saying that Patrick has a small, but meaningful lead.


As we can see, Cahill has been likely hurt by the barrage of negative ads; doubtless to knock him out of the race. However, I think that this may give him a reason to stay in and see it through to the (probably) bitter end.

Baker's negatives are also uncomfortably inching up. Unfortunately for him, Patrick has yet to launch the attack ads that he has in the can. Baker still has time to turn this around and will begin in earnest after Labor Day. The question is - is this enough time to build a positive perception among voters or have opinions solidified to the point where Baker can't break the 40% barrier which he needs to do.

Patrick's negatives are very high and as mentioned previously, should be a stake through his political heart, but the sheer physics of this race allow him to keep a lead. Although he has higher negatives than either Baker or Cahill, ironically Patrick remains the favorite with a little over three months to go.


The Prof

Thursday, July 8, 2010

John Henning - RIP

Veteran political reporter John Henning passed away on Wednesday. This is very sad news for anyone who grew up in New England and followed his reporting, newscasts, and must-watch election night coverage.

I always thought that his read on the local and national political scene was both thoughtful and spot on. He will be missed.

Sunday, June 27, 2010 poll shows race tightening

Hot of the presses...the Boston Globe through the UNH Survey Center released a poll showing better news for Charlie Baker, caution for Deval Patrick, and troubling results for Tim Cahill.
Baker is holding in the low thirties which is not bad for a candidate with nearly half of the public still not knowing who he is (message to Charlie, keep spending on those ad buys). Being a relatively unknown commodity can cut both ways. The danger for Baker as I have been stating all along is that if Patrick succeeds in defining him and driving up his negatives than he will lose. Amazingly, 40% of registered Republicans said they did not know enough about him to form a favorable opinion.

Baker's best news is the steep drop for Cahill. This is also reflected in the Rasmussen polling and many of these anti-establishment voters will more likely than not turn to Baker. Cahill's support is cratering and is approaching what third party candidates typically garner come election time which is less than 10% of the vote. Evidently, the barrage of negative ads targeting Cahill had an effect (yes, negative ads are very effective if done the right way). I don't see how Cahill can recover as his negatives are heading up and his loss of support will enforce the perception that he can't win and that a vote for him will be a wasted vote. He needs to act immediately to counter this - waiting until September will be too late!

MA is on the:
Right Track 40%
Wrong Track 49%

Deval Patrick continues to rely on committed Democrats and liberals to maintain a base in the high 30s/low 40s. He needs Cahill to rebound, otherwise he will likely lose if this becomes a two person race. Any incumbent with negatives outweighing approval has to have some outside factors intervening if they hope to win. If this is an up or down referendum on Patrick, he is more likely than not to come out on the losing end of this. The right track/wrong track numbers are scary indeed for Patrick supporters.

Independents, the KEY swing voter bloc in Massachusetts are currently breaking 35% to Baker, 30% to Patrick, and 12% to Cahill. Baker needs to garner at least 50% of these voters. Patrick has to continue to pull in liberal voters who consider themselves to be independents.

Regionally, Baker is showing strength in the areas of the state where Republicans typically have a base of support in the outer suburbs, Central, and Southeastern pats of Massachusetts. As expected, Patrick is doing well in the Metro Boston area and in Western Massachusetts.

I don't expect either candidate to win by more than a few points. Patrick can't get to 50% (at least not yet) and Baker can't either - especially as long as Cahill in the race. One other note - will Green Parity candidate Jill Stein be able to siphon off a percent or two of liberals who would otherwise vote for Patrick and hand the election to Baker? Baker still needs to perform and find his inner Scott Brown to close this deal. He has four months to do so.

Let the games continue - Onwards!

The Prof

Saturday, June 26, 2010

T Minus Four Months (and a little more)

New Rasmussen polling shows some positives for Charlie Baker, but he is still the underdog in this race. While he has crept closer to Patrick over the past month, bear in mind that the movement in the numbers since May are still within the 4.5% margin of error. While this makes for a good headline for Baker it does not signify (yet) any significant movement.

One positive for Baker is that his recent positive ads showing his "non-corporate" side may be contributing to his upward trend in favorability. It is a good start, but he has to keep it up throughout the summer.

Patrick remains stuck in the low 40s. If I were Patrick, I would begin each day by thanking Tim Cahill for being in this race. Is Christy Mihos from 2006 being channeled here?

The fact that Tim Cahill is at 16% and Patrick's negatives are at 50% show that Cahill is likely draining some of the anti-Patrick sentiment that Baker desperately needs. I think the key to this race is Cahill's final vote tally. If he takes 8% of the vote with Patrick topping out around 43% (probably Patrick's ceiling baring unforeseen events down the road) would leave Baker with 42%. Note that I am not including Green party candidate Jill Stein in this analysis - when we do get some polling numbers with her in the race it will likely take a bit off of Patrick's numbers.

Bottom line - until Labor Day, any polls taken now are directional at best. I think that the outcome in November will rest with the state of Massachusetts' economic conditions as the Governor's approval is tied in large part to the perceptions of the status of the economy.
The Prof

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Full apologies to former President Bush on the title of this posting...

With five months remaining to the November fireworks, here is some some unsolicited advice for each of the campaigns. All of this is strategic - I will offer tactical advice closer to election day.

Governor Patrick, you have nailed down your base of liberals in the leafy suburbs, Cambridge, and the Happy Valley. The trouble is that around 55% of voters wish that there would be a governor without the surname of Patrick taking the corner office in January of 2011. Your unwavering voter base is probably 30-35% of the electorate and that is too close for comfort in a three way race. You need to bump your totals into the low to mid 40s (all of this assumes that Cahill remains in the race of course) to win with enough of a margin for comfort and any claim of a mandate (mandate will be a stretch for any of these candidates) to take into your second term.

You need to do three things:

Actuate the minority vote in the cities of Boston, Lowell, Brockton, Fall River, Worcester, Springfield, etc. Call you friend Barrack to do a campaign swing at the end of October (it didn't help Martha Coakley, but should help Patrick).

Try to persuade some moderate Democrats and suburban independents - many of these folks voted for Scott Brown, but Charlie Baker does not (at least not yet) have the charisma or appeal that Brown had for these folks. Cahill may have some appeal as a perceived outsider (who is really an insider) with this group, but Patrick may be able to get some of these folks to (grudgingly) vote for him - if only for the D next to his name.

Define Charlie Baker as an elite and out of touch health insurance executive (already well underway). A prime benefit of all the contention with insurance premium capping for small group employers is that it doubly serves Patrick as a political cudgel to beat Baker along with portraying the Governor as fighting for the little guy. This has been and continues to be a smart strategy. Baker is still not known by half of the electorate. Patrick will be happy to introduce Baker by slamming him in the press at every opportunity and creating a negative perception for those who do not know Baker. Negative campaigning works folks, otherwise candidates would not spend gobs of money to produce negative ads. Instill enough doubt about Baker so that he does not become a reasonable alternative...

Oh yes, hope and pray that the economy improves so you can claim credit!

Charlie Baker, you start with the advantage of having a lot of money banked to counter Patrick's anticipated negative campaign and have a window to define yourself. Additionally you have the advantage of having experience in both the government and private sectors. Also, you can be personally engaging and the Republican voters in the state seem to like you and will show up in November. The trouble is that you have been stuck around 30% in the polls and need to start moving before Patrick defines you. This is what the Prof suggests you ought to do:

Define yourself - now! I am mystified by the seeming passivity of the Baker campaign thus far. Baker needs to tell his story and become known to the voters if he has a hope of winning this. Of course he is going to do this, but I am puzzled by why the campaign is waiting to do this in earnest. If he waits too long, he will lose the opportunity.

Show some fight. Voters who are upset with the status of the state (a majority) will respond much better to a candidate who shows outward passion and grit. I think Baker is concerned about being portrayed as negative, but he can show some fight without being negative or "unbecoming" (apologies to Governor Romney). Give voters a reason to support you - you have to show some fight to also demonstrate that you will stand up to the state legislature.

Go after Patrick - ignore Cahill. Taking him down was a smart strategy, but you need to start wooing his voters (ironically the former Democrat is running to your right). Go after the support of conservative Democrats who have been flirting with Cahill, but if he is not seen as viable these folks may be up for grabs.

Tim Cahill, you have the toughest job of the three candidates. The attack ads form the Republican Governors Association and some negative press in the Globe has cut your poll numbers nearly in half. Worse yet, while you have a couple of million dollars in the bank, raising more funds is going to be next to impossible unless you can show some viability immediately.

Make some buzz now! Traditionally third party candidates fade and actually draw fewer votes than they poll (the wasted vote syndrome). Cahill needs to get back in the game right now and can do so by creating buzz of some sort that will get him press attention. Announce something big that would radically reform state government - maybe pension reform as many voters can see this problem with the current pension system in pretty stark terms.

Go after Governor Patrick, ignore Baker. If Patrick can be taken down to 35% and this becomes a three-way race again you have a fighting chance to claw your way back in. Let Patrick and Baker destroy each other with attack ads - stay above the fray. If you can get back into this race and raise money there is a path to victory, albeit a very tenuous one.

Hopefully my advice is sage (at least it is free!)


The Prof

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Govs. race - Stuck in the middle with Charlie...

The Prof returns after a busy semester of scaring students and himself in the process...

The Massachusetts Governor's race continues. As we are now well into 2010 with a bit more than five months to the election, let's reassess.

Governor Patrick has climbed out of the basement to the third step up the cellar stairs. The two most recent polls (Rasmussen and Suffolk) show him climbing from the low 30s to the low 40s. He reelect figures remain under 50% which typically is death for an incumbent, but since this continues to be a three-way race, 40% is probably enough to win. He is not particularly well-liked by the broad electorate, but the political left - a potent force in the Bay State remains loyal to him and gives him a floor of around 35%. Peel off some Democratic-leaning independents and he is bumped into the low 40s. Patrick is not running a particularly good campaign, but has benefited from positive media exposure during the floods and water main break in April. Can his support slip again - absolutely and although he is in the best position of the three candidates now; by no means should he think he can cruise.

Republican Charlie Baker remains "stuck in the middle" and is currently polling in the low 30s. One constant thorn for Baker is the continuing presence of Tim Cahill siphoning potential support from the "anybody but Patrick" voters in November.

The Prof (beware of people who refer to themselves in the third person!) thinks that Baker has been running too much of a "nice guy" campaign and unfortunately being a nice guy does not usually win in the rough and tumble of Massachusetts politics. Fire in the belly and hitting back at Lt. Governor Murray's potshots may do him good. He needs to show more passion, which I am just not seeing in his interviews...maybe this will manifest in time. On the plus side, he is still the most viable alternative to Patrick and certainly can pull this out, but he needs to shake up this race.

Tim Cahill's support has plummeted from the mid 20s down to about 14% over the past couple of months. His door (and fundraising potential) seems to be rapidly closing. The flurry of negative ads from the Republican Governor's Association has probably contributed to this. Like Baker, he needs to do something major to try to shake up the race or he will continue to float down to a floor of around 10% - a 10% that Baker desperately needs.

As of today, Patrick remains a slight favorite to win reelection. I believe I pegged his re-election chances at 55% last fall and would up that to 60% based on what I have seen over the past few months.

It is still quite early and typically the public won't really focus on the race until after Labor Day. There will be millions of dollars spent on both sides on campaign advertising - by November most people will be truly sick of the saturation advertising.

I expect that Cahill is unlikely to make any sort of real recovery (it is rare for Independent candidates to gain traction over the long term) and that this will be a Patrick vs. Baker race. This is where the 10-15% who continue to support Cahill will really matter. As most of them would probably support Baker, I would not be surprised to see Baker try to cut some sort of deal from Cahill to drop out. Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Category Six Political Storm in Massachusetts

What a week!

First, the Prof is pleased to say that his final prediction (after a lot of editing as conditions changed) was awfully close.

My prediction on January 17

Brown 50
Coakley 48
Kennedy 2

Actual results on January 19

Brown 52
Coakley 47
Kennedy 1

There have been a plethora of news and analysis so I will keep my commentary on the brief side...

Classic "tortoise vs. hare" scenario. Brown simply ran a exemplary campaign whilst Coakley ran one of thew worst ones I have ever seen. Brown was able to portray himself as the populist outsider while Coakley behaved as the consummate insider. Coakley believed that she had a huge advantage due to being a Democrat in Massachusetts. This proved unwise as Brown attracted massive support form independents and conservative Democrats. Brown won the communities of Lowell and Quincy - these are not Republican towns!

Healthcare, terrorism, and President Obama's popularity falling back to earth all broke in favor of Brown. Brown was able to take advantage of sentiment that was seething beneath the surface and tap into it.

Coakley's negative saturation advertising while bringing liberals into the fold likely alienated many independents. Brown ran a generally positive and upbeat race. He did run negative ads, but placed them much more strategically.

Ted Kennedy's seat flipping to a Republican is indeed a Category Six storm. This is generally good news for beleaguered Massachusetts Republicans. However, they need to be careful that much of the momentum for Brown's win was not a vote for Republicans (Brown rarely even used the label) but a victory for outsiders in the insider-dominated Massachusetts political culture.

This does mean that Republicans will be able to recruit many more candidates in legislative elections this fall. Having candidates does not guarantee election, but it is a necessary start.

What does this mean for the governor's race? I will hit that in my next posting.


The Prof

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Things to watch for on Tuesday

On Tuesday these are the things to look for...

Conventional wisdom is the low turnout benefits Brown and high turnout helps Coakley. What is really important is who turns out and where that turnout is coming from. If there is high turnout in the towns in the Merrimack Valley, the 495 belt (watch Marlborough and Shrewsbury) and the South Shore/Cape, it may be a good night for Brown. If turnout is high in the urban centers, inner suburbs, and liberal communities west of Boston (Newton, Concord, Brookline, etc) Coakley may be on the road to victory.

Early Results
If Chelmsford reports results and Brown is not leading by a substantial margin, he is likely to have a bad night. Conversely, if Coakley is winning Somerville, but by only ten points, she will likely need to work on the concession speech. The anecdotal evidence based on absentee ballot submissions seems to be favorable for Brown as the raw number of absentee ballots in communities where he should do well have been higher than in areas where Coakley is expected to perform well.

Exit Polls
These will be released as soon as polls close by 8:00 pm. Watch for the vote margin among Independents, the extent of the gender gap (Coakley needs to win women by a wide margin) what issues motivated voters (advertising, healthcare, abortion, etc). Also watch for the proportion of Independents who show up. If Independents outnumber Democrats, Brown benefits. if Democratic turnout exceeds Independents, score one for Coakley. Republicans (only 12% of voters) are expected to turn out in very high numbers.

One wildcard that the Obama visit may yield is higher than expected turnout among minority groups. Stay tuned...

Final Prediction for Mass Senate Seat

No more waffling...yes I know this is an extremely close race (unless the polls have utterly missed some dynamic which is very possible) and all depends on turnout, the energy of voters and any last day surprises that may occur. The situation is very fluid - that statement is not exactly rocket science, but is an apt one for this situation.

Out on a limb...ok, jump!

Brown 50
Coakley 48
Kennedy 2

It is also possible, but less likely that either of these candidates wins by a margin of five or more points. Explanation for all scenarios below...

Why Brown wins

Brown has campaigned as an outsider vs. Coakley's insider status. This has energized many independents (quite of few of whom were Obama voters in 2008). Outsider status during a recession with a sizable portion of the electorate angry at Beacon Hill and disappointment with the Obama administration (though not him personally) is a huge plus. Coakley is the defacto "incumbent" in this race and Brown has been able to capture the mantel of the fresh-faced challenger.

Brown also has run a generally positive campaign. He has done a decent job in defining himself and that has helped make this a competitive race. Likeabilty matters.

Voter anger at Beacon Hill and Washington DC - 'nuff said. Running against the "machine" was a smart strategy. The way health care has been debated in DC also has energized his voters. Even in Massachusetts, the current proposals on Capitol Hill are not very popular.

Brown has been able to appeal to lunch bucket Democrats. He won't come close to winning Democrats, but if he can win 20% of them and rack up big margins among independents, it will carry him over the line.

Momentum - he has it. His voters are extremely energized and passionate about his candidacy. Coakley's voters simply are not as energized.

Money - although at a slight financial disadvantage, Brown has been able to remain very competitive and has run a very good GOTV (get out the vote) operation and has been able to advertise on TV, radio, and via robo-calls.

Many folks who may prefer the Libertarian Kennedy may in the booth go for Brown. Third party candidacies typically do much better in opinion polls than in the actual results.

Coakley's mistakes

Coakley has run literally one of the worst campaigns that I have ever seen. She is now relying on party unity to carry her over the finish line and is making few as possible media appearances due to her numerous gaffes over the past week. Her campaign really imploded and allowed Brown to climb into this by her not actively campaigning during the month of December. This allowed Brown to define himself instead of her using her considerable financial resources to define him as he was an unknown quantity to most voters.

Coakley's final crash began with the last debate where her rather mundane performance reinforced why she has been avoiding many public forums. Her answers on terrorism (no Taliban in Afghanistan) were interpreted as as being both woefully out of touch and uninformed. I know what she "meant" by her answer - that we needed to redirect our focus to Pakistan and Yemen. However, she created a perception of not being engaged in reality - especially two weeks after a near disaster in the skies over Detroit.

She simply is not a good "politician" although that has nothing to do with her potential performance as senator. But you need to win voters on the ground and little things like being perceived to be surrounding herself with insiders is not the way to win independents. She needed to campaign as a populist and as the heir to Ted Kennedy. She really failed on that account.

Coakley's negative firestorm may attract hard-line Democrats, but I think may alienate independents. Her ads are giving no reason why people should vote for her - they are about portraying Brown in as negative a light as possible. negative ads can and do work, but the saturation bombing smacks of desperation.

How Coakley can win

Turnout turnout turnout! Did I mention turnout? She needs to energize her base. The Democrats enjoy a huge advantage (37% of the electorate are registered Democrats). Labor and human services/advocacy groups have a considerable presence in Massachusetts and they do vote in high numbers.

The negative ad campaign may drive away suburban women from Brown over the abortion issue. It also "gins up" turnout among base Democrats who may have had less reason to vote if they thought Coakley had a comfortable lead.

President Obama's visit (he has to come; if he doesn't and Coakley loses he will share the blame for not helping). This will likely energize minority and urban voters who otherwise may not have shown up.

If all of these things come together, she can win and by a margin that is relatively comfortable. But I think the endemic weakness of her candidacy simply may be too big a drag to pull this off.

Onwards to Tuesday!

The Prof

Last set of polls on the Mass Senate Race

Quick update on polling - looks like Brown may hold a small lead with 2 days to go, but all of these polls are within the margin of error - this is a statistical tie folks! Below are the polls that have been released since Monday of last week. The trends are that Brown is leading nearly 2 to 1 among independents and seems to have the most energized voters.

Much of the issues that pollsters have is how to model the breakdown of the electorate, i.e. who actually turns out to vote. Some of the variation is partially due to different samples in term sof the partisan affiliation of who shows up. Right now though, the best we can do is to make educated guesses.

All the below surevys are of likely voters.

American Research Group
Brown 48
Coakley 45

Research 2000
Coakley 48
Brown 41

Coakley 47
Brown 45

Suffolk University
Brown 50
Coakley 46
Kennedy 3
Undecided 1

Statistical breakdown (Courtesy of Suffolk University)
Among men, Brown led Coakley 55% to 41% but trailed among women 50 % to 45%.

78 % of registered Democrats preferred Coakley, while 91% of registered Republicans and 65% of independents favored Brown.

Brown led in most areas of the state, except Suffolk County, where Coakley crushed Brown 69%to 31%.

Brown (57% favorable to 19% unfavorable) was viewed more positively than Coakley (49%favorable to 41% unfavorable).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Polls are all over the place

Hi all,

What a difference a month makes...

Three polls have been released over the past week. All three survey likely voters.

Rasmussen: Coakley 51; Brown 40

Globe/UNH: Coakley 50; Brown 35

Public Policy Polling (PPP): Brown 48; Coakley 47

All of these show how hard it is to forecast a special election. The Rasmussen and PPP polls show Brown with a big lead among independents, while the globe shows independents slightly in favor of Coakley. Both candidates have relatively high positives. Likewise the Globe poll shows more support for health reform legislation than either Rasmussen or PPP.

Which one is closest? Hard to tell as WHO turns out (in terms of demographics) will matter most. Republicans and Brown supporters appear to be more motivated in this race, but Massachusetts is still overwhelmingly blue.

For now, I am going to stick with my earlier prediction of a Coakley victory. My first assessment was a 57-43 margin which is a 14 point win. It may well end up less than 10 points, but until I get a better sense of the data, it is hard to tell. The Prof's instinct tells him that Coakley should pull this out easily with major ad buys for the last ten day and a concentrated ground effort. However, this race is taking place with an angry electorate and a rather uninspired campaign by Coakley. Massachusetts Republicans (all 14 of them) appear to be very fired up about the race so unpredictability is the watchword for any sane pundit.

But...I will go out on a limb (with the caveat that this may change by the day) and predict an 8 point Coakley victory (which is the average of the three polls out today)

Coakley 53

Brown 45

Kennedy 2

My next post will center on a possible Brown path to victory.


The Prof