Massachusetts Senate race: let the blame game begin
Win or lose the Massachusetts Senate race, Martha Coakley should have run a better campaign against Scott Brown, political strategists say. Now, Democrats are asking: What went wrong?
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“As the 41st senator I can stop a lot of this stuff in its tracks,” Brown told Politico on Jan. 7. In the 100-seat Senate, he would be the 41st Republican, ending the Democrats’ filibuster-proof supermajority of 60 seats.Skip to next paragraph
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Tapping into the 'tea parties'
Brown has also successfully tapped into the energy and support of the antitax “tea party” movement, which has responded to his call for help. Republicans in general have flooded the state with money when Brown’s late surge showed he had a shot.
So is Mr. Obama himself in part to blame for Coakley’s woes? Insofar as he has presided over his own steady decline in job approval, and even lower public approval of his policies, then yes. The White House, fearing bad news later in the day, pushed back Tuesday against blame for its role in the campaign.
In an interview with regional reporters Tuesday, Obama political strategist David Axelrod said the White House would have done more to help Coakley if requested. Obama went to Boston on Sunday to campaign for her, but it may have been too late.
“The White House did everything we were asked to do,” Mr. Axelrod said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “I think if we had been asked earlier, we would have responded earlier.”
A lot of 'ifs'
Axelrod also praised Brown’s campaign: “As a practitioner of politics, my hat’s off to him.”
While Brown has correctly read the mood of the electorate, Coakley has been caught short in ways both large and small – including some bad gaffes. When asked recently by the Boston Globe why she was spending time with party poobahs, she replied: “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?” Over the weekend, she referred to former Red Sox ace pitcher Curt Schilling as, as “a Yankee fan.”
Despite the tough atmospherics for Democrats, Coakley could have made things much easier on herself and the Democrats.
“There are always a lot of ‘ifs,’ ” says Mr. Fenn. “If they’d had a good campaign in December; if they had started off right after the primary; if they had gone on the air with ads and defined him as well as her, the big money from outside the state probably wouldn’t have come in.”
Could she have won by 30 points? No, he says. But she would have almost certainly won. Now, that seems a long shot.
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