The race in Massachusetts, where it really stands

Okay, by now everyone who pays attention to politics knows that there’s a special Senate election in Massachusetts. Importantly, the voters of Massachusetts know it. That wasn’t the case a couple weeks ago when it seemed no one, except for GOP candidate Scott Brown and his followers, were focused on today’s contest. It seemed like Martha Coakley, the Democrat, was barely running a campaign.

It seems most of the pundits have written this race off already — giving the victory to Brown. Nate Silver reports there’s a 25% chance Coakley can win and notes 25% is not equal to zero. At, Charles Franklin reports that polls show a lead for Brown, but adds this:

The caveats are that turnout may yet matter, for either side. Reps enjoy an enthusiasm advantage, according to the polls, but Dems might yet mobilize their voters beyond what the polling suggests. And there is the unknown of the GOTV efforts on Tuesday. But if Coakley wins, this will be a major surprise, and the pollsters will have a lot to rethink about their methods. A win for Brown will have huge implications for the Democratic policy agenda and will put the fear of God into Democrats running in November.

Along those line, I was struck by this analysis at Blue Mass Group:

I am seeing and sensing a lot of that “freak out” among Massachusetts Dems and liberals who probably would not have voted tomorrow if the polls showed Martha ahead.

Remember, there has not been a tight race, with national significance, within Massachusetts since…. I don’t know when. Obama, Kerry, Gore, etc… all had Mass sewn up long before the polls opened. This is the first time in almost a generation that Mass Dems have been forced into a corner on the national stage.

I’d bet a pitcher of beer that we rise to the occasion.

That comports with what I’ve been hearing. The lack of attention to this race definitely worked to Scott Brown’s advantage. His supporters were fired up and always planned to vote.

But that changed over the past couple days. Most people in Massachusetts just weren’t paying attention to politics over the holidays. Plus, Mass. never has elections at this time of year. Now at least, people know, which means turnout will be higher than expected just a couple days ago. And, Democrats are actually fired up. A friend mentioned he saw Rep. Ed Markey on local news yesterday thanking Scott Brown for uniting the Mass. Dem Party like never before. Democrats have been shaken out of their complacency.

In addition, Democrats in the Bay State now know about Scott Brown’s record. He is the candidate of the teabagger. His right-wing, anti-gay record has been exposed. And, the video of Brown smiling and nodding when a supporter yelled “shove a curling iron up her butt” says a lot about the guy.

Granted, a lot of my latest info is anecdotal, not scientific polling. I talked to a number of political types (and family) in Massachusetts who are feeling a little better today than they were last week. Although, the one consistent complaint has been about the poor quality of Coakley’s ads, which were produced by GMMB. That firm is led by Jim Margolis, one of the ultimate DC Democratic insiders. GMMB did ads for Obama, too.

From what I’ve heard, Massachusetts Democrats know how to do GOTV, which is key in these kinds of elections. The networks are activated, especially the LGBT ones.

All this added attention could and should help Coakley. I’m wondering if this election could be like the Democratic primary in New Hampshire two years ago when everyone thought Obama would win — as all the polls predicted, but Clinton prevailed. That could be wishful thinking.

The polls close at 8:00 PM. That’s when we’ll know for sure. But, I do know this: As much as Rahm Emanuel is trying to assign blame to others (and he is), much blame for the angry political climate in the U.S. lies with the strategy Rahm developed for the Obama presidency. To think this race is only about Coakley would be a huge mistake.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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