Shock and Awe in Massachusetts

Kenneth Davenport predicts a Scott Brown victory in the Massachusetts special election. See, “Prediction: Shock and Awe in Massachusetts.”

And you know, that might be a pretty good bet. From Amy Walter, “How Long Will Massachusetts Dems Feel Blue? Among Enthusiastic Voters, The Bay State’s Senate Race Is A Surprising Dead Heat“:

How does a special election in Massachusetts, one of the bluest states around, go from a slam dunk to a nail-biter? One word: enthusiasm. Republicans have it. Democrats don’t.

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The good news for Democratic Senate hopeful Martha Coakley is that there’s still a week to go before Election Day. Plus, the more the state and national media focus on this as a tight race, the more it helps rouse her currently uninterested base.

Can Republican Scott Brown really win? If you look at just those who say they are the most interested in voting on Jan. 19, the answer is yes. Among those in the recent Boston Globe poll who said they were “extremely interested” in the race, Coakley and Brown were tied at 47 percent. Last week’s Rasmussen poll showed similar results. Among those who said they were most likely to go to the polls, Coakley led by just 2 points — 47 percent to 45 percent. (Coakley still had an overall lead of 15 points in the Globe poll and 9 points in Rasmussen.)

Another less scientific but still telling statistic from the Boston Herald: Brown’s crushing Coakley on Facebook. Brown has 20,000 supporters compared to Coakley’s 6,000. More interestingly, the “Facebook Women for Brown” group has over 1,000 members, while the “Women for Coakley” group has just 45.

Even so, time is not Brown’s friend. Up until now, Coakley’s run a positive campaign. I’d expect that to end soon. She was aggressive with Brown at a debate late last week. The tone of her ads is also likely to get much tougher. This is where Coakley’s money advantage should pay off. Can Brown afford to both defend himself from attacks and keep up his own messaging? At this point, neither the Republican Senate committee nor the Republican National Committee has invested significant resources here (although an online “money bomb” organized for the Brown campaign has reportedly raised him more than $1 million).

Brown also has to be worried about this race becoming too nationalized. It’s not an oversight that none of Brown’s ads mention he’s a Republican. Brown’s message is to “end business as usual in Washington.” The last thing in the world he needs is a supportive tweet from Sarah Palin. Not only would that turn away independents (with whom Brown is doing quite well), but it’d likely invigorate the Democratic base, as well.

For Democrats in swing states like Virginia or Colorado, a drop in Democratic intensity is deadly, especially if it’s combined with losing independents (see Deeds, Creigh). In Massachusetts, however, Democrats make up such a big percentage of the vote that Brown needs to win over a good chunk of them — or hope that Libertarian candidate Joe Kennedy can take some too. Public Policy Polling and Boston Globe data suggest an electorate that’s anywhere from 44 percent to 56 percent Democrat. Coakley’s getting almost 80 percent of that vote. Let’s say that the Democratic turnout ends up at 50 percent, while independents make up 30 percent and Republicans make up 20 percent. As long as she takes 80 percent of the Democratic vote, she can win, even if she takes just 40 percent of the independent vote and none of the GOP vote.

But the closeness of this race highlights the bigger problem for Democrats going into this midterm election: motivation. Revving up their base was easy when it was all about Bush. Now that it’s all about them, Democrats aren’t as interested. To be sure, the Coakley campaign itself deserves some of the blame for failing to engage her base more actively. But this lack of Democratic excitement is not all about her. It’s been evident in state and national polls for a while. And health care is not the issue that will motivate them.

And from Legal Insurrection, “New Poll – Coakley Only Up 2 Pts.”

See also, Gateway Pundit, “Nice Work… New Coakley Attack Ad Misspells Massachusetts.” (Via Memeorandum.)

Cross-posted from American Power.

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