Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mass Sen Finger Pointing (Dems only)

Coakley adviser memo: D.C. Dems 'failed' Coakley - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

Dem Party Responds to Coakley memo

Ahhhh. And the votes aren't even counted yet.

Discuss: Could a better campaign have saved Coakley? If she miraculously wins, how bad do these folks look? What accounts for the sudden crashing of Coakley and the surge for Brown? Can a seat ever be taken for granted? Is there a just God?


  1. Yeah, a better campaign should have saved Coakley.

    A lot of liberal bloggers are blaming this on the health care issue, specifically, that Mass. already has it and would just be paying for other states. Matt Yglesias has a post that would have served as a good rebuttal to this claim. Had it been deployed earlier, it might have buffered some of the attacks from Brown's camp, but to the best of my knowledge Coakley never bothered to make an HCR argument that catered to Mass. voters.

    Conservative bloggers are also hyping the national security aspect of the campaign -- and here there's really no excusing how poorly prepared Coakley was. Sadly, the "there are no terrorists in Afghanistan" gaffe looks tens times worse coming from a woman than it does coming from a man. She should have been ready for something like that, perhaps even taking a hawkish posture on security from the very beginning.

    Then there are the cultural matters: it's impossible to appeal to Irish Catholics in Southie when you're running like a Boston Brahmin. The Red Sox flubs were unforgivable.

    The word that has been conspicuously absent from early reviews of Coakley's campaign has been "competence." Coakley demonstrated that she couldn't run a competent campaign in even under favorable circumstances -- this doesn't exactly give voters the impression that she will be a competent Senator under potentially hostile circumstances if elected. Voters in Mass. also tend to be acutely aware that sending a Dem to the Senate essentially means a lifetime appointment. Coakley should have been running like someone who was "running" for Supreme Court, not just in a special election.

  2. Hey Prof. Franklin,

    Your post brings up a few more questions that seem to be right in your wheelhouse:

    Coakley's pollster seems to be getting a ton of slack these days, perhaps you can shed some light on the internal mechanics of an internal campaign pollster.

    More specifically, (a.) How often does typical senatorial campaign pollster conduct a tracking poll during the last weeks of the campaign?

    (b.) Do you happen to know if the Coakley campaign polled more or less frequently that what is usual?

    (c.) Given the trends you noted in the public polling at Pollster.com -- here and here -- at what point should the Coakley campaign have started to worry?

    (d.) Is there anything specific to Massachusetts that would have made polling more difficult (not including the special election circumstances)?

    (e.) What did the Brown campaign do right after the polls started to move in their favor?

    I know hindsight is 20/20, but that's how we learn.

    Thanks in advance!

  3. I think the campaign did less polling that they would have with more money. There was a long gap in the fall without public polls. I don't know what campaign polls may have been done then. But the drop from a 30 point Coakley lead to just 9 points in early January got the race a lot of coverage. If the campaign missed that trend, then bad on them. I don't think Mass. is particularly difficult to poll. Turnout in a special election is hard, but that isn't uniquely Mass.

    Brown made good use of issues that hurt Dems, and he stressed his "independence" to make voting for him more palatable for Mass. Independents who may lean Dem. Smart move.


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