4. Voter turnout was stellar. On a cold, snowy/rainy winter day, turnout was 53% — comparable to turnout in presidential elections. But it was 70% in Brown-leaning districts, and 38-43% in Coakley-leaning, including Boston, Cambridge and other big cities. If Boston/Cambridge turnout had been 55%, Coakley would have eeked out a victory, erasing Brown’s 110,000 vote margin (out of over 2 million votes cast).
All in all, it is clear from the voting patterns that Brown, a vastly better campaigner with a record that was easier to explain (legislative records are generically easier to explain than prosecutorial anyway, and Coakley has John Kerry’s gift of gab) had a leg up, once he got national funding support. And, as he was far further to the right than Coakley was to the left, he was bound to get a better turnout.
… She was still a passing-fair candidate, but only marginally competitive under the “national Republicans will pour money into this race” scenario. And that scenario should have been expected.
— Steve Ross
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s president, Drew Altman, has today released the results of their analysis of the Washington Post poll, done in cooperation with colleagues at Harvard University, which tends to support the conclusions of Karen Tumulty. Notably, they have observed that “Brown voters’ top complaint about health reform was not about the substance of the legislation itself or its perceived impact on them or their families, but about a policymaking process that they seemed to think had gone badly wrong.” As revealing seems to be what many of those who voted for Brown now expect of their newly elected Senator. I think the piece is well worth reading and contributes to thoughtful analysis of the Massachusetts vote.
— Joel Stookey
Steve and Art, you guys are in denial - like many of my erstwhile neighbors in crunchy, left-wing Lexington. The votes for Brown were by a base energized against the health care Obamination. The reason for the low turnout in Coakley districts was the previous energized Obama voters lost their religion.
But don’t take my word for it, just look at what the experts are doing. The Congressional Democratic leadership has put Obamacare on hold, possibly forever. Do you think they would take this extraordinary step if there was an iota of chance that it could pass anyway? Do you think any of them believe that a Republican was elected to “Teddy’s seat” just because Coakley was a bad campaigner?
Sometime you’re just too close to see what’s right before your eyes.
And Tumulty responded in another post at Time’s “Swampland” blog:
Of course, I did not limit my reporting to man-on-the-street interviews. I never do. I looked at poll results, and talked to strategists. I heard from people who were working phone banks. But I still think there’s a value to occasionally switching off the cable news and talking to people.
And guess what? I’m not the only one who has come around to the belief that Massachusetts voters were turned off by Ben Nelson’s sweetheart deal. Yes, it was a Republican talking point—but it was one that resonated. As one senior White House official said yesterday in advance of the State of the Union address, it was “a galvanizing event. … We need to be mindful of that moving forward.” Nancy Pelosi said that getting that provision taken out of the bill will be one of the top demands that her members make. “That has to be fixed,” she said.
So call me outdated, but I’m going to continue talking to voters whenever I get the chance. You never know. Sometimes, they might figure out things even before the talking heads do.
— Karen Tumulty
I hate being called arrogant or unmindful of voters and good reporting, but the Harvard polling worksheets find almost no volunteering of complaints specifically on Nelson’s Nebraska deal. Left or right, voters didn’t like THE PLAN and they felt it was irrelevant to Massachusetts.