With all precincts reporting, Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley and Libertarian Joe Kennedy by a margin of 52% to 47% to 1% respectively. What does Brown’s victory – in the heart of Blue America – mean? Here’s a couple of key points.
1. Hard work and entitlement. As Kos rightly points out, voters want you to earn their vote:
In 2006, while researching Democratic gains in Red Montana, I asked a couple of state legislators how they won their tough races. I was looking for the magic message, but instead got a mundane answer: they knocked on doors. Lots of them. And they put tens of thousands of miles on their pickup trucks.
That’s the strategy we saw in reverse in indigo-Blue Massachusetts — a Republican who downplayed his GOP badge while putting in thousands of miles on his pickup truck. 200,000 of them.
Teddy never took his voters for granted, no matter how big an icon he was in the state. Brown didn’t take them for granted either. He was aggressive, engaged, effective, and … lucky as all shit. It’s not every day you get to go up against a candidate who takes everything for granted, neglects to negatively define you, and heads out for vacation while the race is still on.
There’s several messages to learn from this fiasco, but chief among them — if you decide to run for office, then respect the freakin’ voters and work your ass off for their vote. They are angry, frustrated, and looking for a sign that you get their concerns. Going on vacation doesn’t cut it. Campaigning your heart out gets you a good of the way there.
I couldn’t agree more. And I was glad to see that Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez also realizes this lesson. He said, “”I have no interest in sugar coating what happened in Massachusetts. There is a lot of anxiety in the country right now. Americans are understandably impatient… In the days ahead, we will sort through the lessons of Massachusetts: the need to redouble our efforts on the economy, the need to show that our commitment to real change is as powerful as it was in 2008, and the reality that we cannot take a single thing for granted and cannot afford even a second of complacency.”
2. Marc Ambinder bolsters the point that Brown simply out-worked Coakley:
Coakley had 19 events after the primary through Sunday; Scott Brown had 66.
3. Bloody primaries matter. After her opponents spent over $6 million in campaign ads, Coakley only won 47% of the vote in the Democratic primary. That means 53% of Democrats did not vote for her. In the election yesterday, Rasmussen’s poll shows that 22% of MA Democrats voted for Brown. Coakley simply had no chance of winning with nearly 1 out of every 4 Democrats voting for the Republican.
4. In recent Rasmussen and Suffolk polls, President Obama had approval ratings of 57% in Massachusetts. Martha Coakley only received 47% of the vote. In other words, this election was certainly not a referendum on the Obama presidency for a segment of the electorate.
5. All politics is local. Attorneys General doth not maketh good statewide candidates in MA or in RI.
6. Without a 60 vote majority, Obama’s judicial nominations may have just hit a stumbling block. This might spell trouble for the two nominations pending in Rhode Island.
7. Silver lining: Joe Lieberman no longer has a stranglehold on the Democratic Party by being the 60th vote.
8. How important was 60 votes anyway? Kos notes
“..but really, what did 60 get us last year? It empowered Joe Lieberman, gave cover to Blanche Lincoln, provided excuses to Harry Reid, and gave a free pass to Max Baucus. Now we don’t have 60. And like the Republican Senate of the 2000s, if Democrats want to get anything done, they’ll have to do it via reconciliation. Given last year’s track record in the Senate, it certainly can’t make the Senate any less effective.”
9. Defining Democrats and Change. Drew Westen makes some salient points about the failure of Obama to stand up and be a proud Democrat and the resulting voter anger.
10. The danger of complacency and incumbency. Finally, it is clear in this election that Coakley attempted to coast to victory and then, upon realizing that Brown had caught up with her, she immediately went negative. At no point, did Coakley attempt to stand for something or say that she would fight for something. She let Scott Brown take the mantle of reform, of change, of being the outsider. In other words, Coakley ran the typical incumbent candidacy in a year that voters don’t really like incumbents.