Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The real lesson of Massachusetts

Two weeks ago, Massachusetts Democrat Martha Coakley enjoyed a double-digit lead in polls, was raising an average of $24,000 a day in political contributions and had yet to put up a single campaign television ad.

In a matter of days, her front-runner status had collapsed. Suddenly, a little-known Republican state lawmaker, Scott Brown, had turned the contest for the Bay State's Senate seat — a seat that had been held by Edward Kennedy for 47 years — into a real race.

Massachusetts voters responded Tuesday by turning out to the polls in droves as snow fell across portions of the state, delivering an upset victory for Brown despite a 3-to-1 Democratic advantage in voter registration. The Associated Press called the race less than an hour and a half after polls closed.

Whether the abrupt shift in the dynamics of the campaign was based on the individual candidates or a broader, national resentment over the economy and President Obama's policies, the down-to-the-wire election has given Democrats pause as House and Senate lawmakers nationwide prepare to face voters in the fall election.

The lesson of Massachusetts is that Obama has no coattails when he's not on the ballot, and his personal popularity is non transferable.

Why? Because the minority communities that voted in record numbers in 2008 to put Obama in office haven't come out to vote in high numbers since then, when Obama wasn't on the ballot.

No comments: