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

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