Monday, January 18, 2010

No Cause for Complacency

The Massachusetts special Senate election seems to have entered the trench warfare stage of a campaign. Coakley's barrage of negative attacks and increased Democratic interest seem to have slowed Brown's meteoric rise in the polls. According to most polls, the negatives for both candidates are going up as the race enters its final stages. There are three possible outcomes. One is that this race ends up in a neck-and-neck grudge match, as partisans from each side grind away at each other without a huge swing in the polls, giving us a close result for one side or the other. Another is that Scott Brown's Republican, independent, and Democratic coalition sweeps the field, far outperforming most polling numbers and winning a decisive victory. The third outcome---and probably the least likely---is the Democratic machine in Massachusetts, buoyed by a visit by Obama, is able to pull things together for a solid victory for Coakley.

The polls for these final hours tell a mixed story. Some of Coakley's internals supposedly have her up by two points (this is probably a calculated leak). According to Bill Kristol, Brown's numbers have him gaining over the weekend and with a clear lead no matter what turnout model is used. If Brown's momentum has slowed, has it reversed, too? Two master internet pollsters have two different results. Charles Franklin at argues for a wide trend increasingly favoring Brown. Nate Silver, however, sketches an ubertrendline showing a reversal of the momentum for this race, with Brown peaking around 1/15 and the race slowly swinging back in Coakley's direction.

Whatever the details of the polls, this is definitely time for Brown's allies to be hopeful, charged up, and excited. It is not time for them to be complacent. In the final 30+ hours of the campaign, the race could still swing in a lot of ways. The Coakley gaffe machine keeps going on and on and on. But Team Brown can't just rely on its opponents verbal infelicities.

Turnout and enthusiasm can make a loss a victory or a narrow victory a crushing triumph. Now is not the time to falter or hold back or relax. Phonebanking and other types of volunteering, donating money, talking to your neighbors, going out and actually voting---there's plenty that individuals can do to support Brown. Brown's allies need to keep pushing the enough-is-enough sense of change and argue on behalf of balance on Capitol Hill. Brown has been successful at casting this race not as Republican vs. Democrat but as moderation vs. extremism, hope vs. demonization, independence vs. hackery. Those themes have carried him far to this point; they may just carry him (and, later in the year, others) to Washington, DC to work for real, positive reform.


  1. Get out and vote for Scott Brown on Tues! Vote early in the morning.
    Bring your cameraphone in case you spot Dems pulling dirty tricks.

  2. Never in the field of American politics: Has so much been owed by so many to so few.

    God Bless America. Now Let's Roll: Boxer. You're next!


  4. Please don't be overconfident. They've gots of hats out of which they can pull rabbits. I wouldn't put it past the SEIU to send their people to Brown rallies just to get us jazzed up so we will have egg on our faces.

  5. PLEASE get everyone you know to the polls, especially independents!

    REMIND Brown voters to vote.

    ASK Brown voters if they voted, and well before polls close!

    HELP anyone who cannot drive (elderly) or needs a ride to the polls to get there.

    WATCH for fraud.