Dan Blatt ’85 on Martha Coakley’s ’75 loss.
Perhaps, because I was dining with my fellow Ephs (graduates of Williams College) last night that I defended our fellow alum Martha Coakley as I had on this blog just after her defeat last week. She was waging the right kind of campaign for a special election in a jurisdiction which overwhelmingly favored her party.
When, however, she began to realize she had a race on her hands, her campaign had about ten days to shift strategies before voters trooped to the polls. Now, in the wake of her defeat in that overwhelmingly Democratic jurisdiction, national Democrats are already hitting the panic button even though there are more than nine months until Election Day. While Democrats don’t have the full length of a human gestation cycle to come up with a new strategy, they have time.
National Democrats don’t have the same excuse Mrs Coakley did. In that accelerated campaign, the Massachusetts Democrat didn’t have much time to shift strategy. Where Democrats have months, she had days. They’re hitting the panic button when they should be deciphering the results, reviewing the change in the electorate and developing a strategy to respond to those results and those changes.
I think that the debate over Coakley’s loss is one of the more interesting political discussions happening right now, as we have seen at EphBlog in recent threads. Consider John Judis writing at TNR:
The senior citizen vote overlaps to some extent with the white working-class vote, but it has a special importance because these voters come out disproportionately in midterm elections. If the Democrats continue to lose the senior vote, as Coakley appears to have done in Massachusetts yesterday, they will get clobbered in November 2010. We’re not talking two or three senate seats, but as many as eight, and not 20 or 25 House seats, but maybe between 30 and 40. To avoid a calamity on that level, Democrats will have to answer a difficult question: Why have these two groups distanced themselves in the last year, and particularly in the last few months, from Obama and the party?
Read the whole thing. Much of Judis’s argument (and neither he nor TNR are notably rightwing) parallels PTC’s claims about the “Townie Vote.”
But, as always, my favorite method for settling a debate like this is to use your position to make a forecast that might, or might not, come to pass. If the Democrats are crushed in November, then you would be hard-pressed to claim that Coakley’s campaign mistakes played a major role in her loss. On the other hand, if the Democrats do OK (lose some seats but not many), then those (like me) who think that Brown’s victory highlights major public disapproval of Obama/Democrats should admit that they were wrong. Any takers?