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EphBlog Voted for Coakley ’75

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When You Have Lost The Boston Globe . . .

All good Ephs wish each other success, regardless of our partisan affiliations. So, I trust that you will join me in supporting Martha Coakley ’75 in her race for governor of Massachusetts. Alas, it looks like we won’t get any help from the Boston Globe.

This year’s race for governor unfolds beneath mostly sunny skies. In the last eight years, Massachusetts withstood a brutal recession far better than most states did. It came through a terrorist bombing more unified than it had been. Greater Boston’s innovation economy is thriving, and a construction boom is reshaping the skyline. In the major-party candidates — Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Martha Coakley — voters are lucky to have two experienced, trustworthy public servants who can capably govern a state whose schools and hospitals are the envy of the nation.

Effective activist government isn’t built on good intentions. To provide consistently good results, especially for the state’s most vulnerable and troubled residents, agencies need to focus on outcomes, learn from their errors, and preserve and replicate approaches that succeed. Baker, a former health care executive, has made a career of doing just that. During this campaign, he has focused principally on making state government work better. The emphasis is warranted. And in that spirit, the Globe endorses Charlie Baker for governor.

Still, Coakley’s campaign up to now suggests an odd reluctance to seize the initiative. Even as a prohibitive favorite during the Democratic primary contest, she was unwilling to spell out an issue agenda — raising the possibility that, if she is elected, the public discussion might drift toward whichever priorities legislative leaders decided to emphasize. For instance, lawmakers seem to have cooled lately on education reform. Coakley’s positions in this area, such as on raising the cap on the number of charter schools in the state, appear to be a work in progress.

If you are Democrat in Massachusetts who can’t win an endorsement from the Globe . . .

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Regulatory Challenges into Political Opportunities

Martha Coakley ’75, EphBlog’s favorite gubernatorial candidate, has some lobbyist issues.

A politically wired Beacon Hill lobbying firm let off with a light penalty by Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Martha Coakley for a possible violation of state law hosted a fundraiser for Coakley’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2009, the Herald has learned.

The fundraiser calls into question the attorney general’s repeated attempts to distance herself from the lobbying powerhouse, which negotiated a controversial settlement with Coakley’s office for allegedly charging illegal contingency fees to the Franciscan Hospital for Children.

Coakley’s campaign finally acknowledged to the Herald that the Brennan Group hosted the November 2009 fundraiser for her 2010 Senate campaign after repeatedly denying the firm gave any money to her gubernatorial bid.

Ho, hum. Elections cost money and some of the biggest givers will always be those who want to get something out of the government. The larger and more powerful the government becomes, the more intensely will people seek out fixers like Brennan.

The Brennan Group is a politically connected firm whose clients include the MBTA Retirement Fund, Delaware North and Tufts Veterinary School. Brennan is a former Democratic lawmaker, and he and his staffers have donated tens of thousands to a slew of politicians, mostly fellow Democrats.

Its website even boasts of its successful track record in influencing Bay State power brokers:

“We transform regulatory challenges into political opportunities.”

Ha! Life is often more absurd than any satire.

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Ephs Win 3 of 4

A good election night for Williams. Three Eph candidates won!
Chris Murphy ’96 for reelection to Congress from Connecticut.
Walker Stapleton ’96 for Colorado State Treasurer.
Martha Coakley ’75 for reelection as Massachusetts Attorney General.

Alas, Doug Hoffer ’85 lost in his race for Vermont State Auditor.

Were Ephs involved in any other elections last night? Any opinions about what the elections mean from our readers?

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Joe and Mika on Campus / Election Day Liveblog

Tonight’s election discussion at the ’62 Center with Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski ’89 should be a fun one.  Keep an eye out for excerpts broadcast on their program tomorrow morning (and if possible, capture them and post video here!).  Kudos to SID Dick Quinn for helping make this happen!  Anyone who attends, please share any particularly interesting exchanges.

Also, use this thread to post results and comment on the election prospects of Ephs Chris Murphy ’96 (running for reelection to Congress, and recently received the largest local paper’s endorsement, but faces a very competitive race in a formerly reliably-red district), Walker Stapleton ’96 (running for Colorado State Treasurer, like Murphy, his race is a toss-up), Martha Coakley ’75 (running for reelection as Massachusetts Attorney General, and should have less trouble than she had in the Senate race), and Doug Hoffer ’85 (running for Vermont State Auditor), as well as any other Ephs running for office.

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What Politicians Do

Martha Coakley ’75 wants to be a Senator. To get that job, she needs to win an election. To win a state-wide election, there is nothing more important than name recognition. To increase your name recognition, you need to get your name in the newspaper, even if doing so is the result of idiocy like this.

AG urges Beth Israel to rethink CEO’s fitness
Swift action found lacking on Levy

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said yesterday that the board of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center should do “some soul-searching’’ about chief executive Paul Levy’s ability to continue leading the hospital, after her office concluded that his longtime personal relationship with a female employee “clearly endangered the reputation of the institution and its management.’’

Coakley’s remarks, made in an interview with the Globe, came as she released results of her office’s four-month investigation into the board’s handling of Levy’s relationship with the woman, who left the organization last fall.

What business is that of the Massachusetts AG? None. But grandstanding on ths topic got Coakley her name in the paper, and that is all that matters.

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Judge sides with Commonwealth of Massachusetts against Federal Government

A limited victory for gay and lesbian couples, in a case brought by Attorney General Martha Coakley ’75. An interesting application of the 10th Amendment to limit federal interference in marriage. Link to full decision in Massachusetts’ lawsuit against US (PDF). Link to decision in GLAD suit against Office of Personnel Management (PDF)

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Not Illegal to be Illegal

If you are still reading EphBlog over the summer, you must be interested in discussing stories like this.

The question at the press conference at the State House yesterday was, Why do these illegal types keep gravitating to Massachusetts?

The attorney general, “Marsha” Coakley, was a no-show, but she’d already answered the question a few weeks ago on Worcester radio station WCRN.

Marsha, why are so many of these illegal aliens invading Massachusetts?

“Technically,” she replied, “it is not illegal to be illegal in Massachusetts.”

Not the sort of thing that I would say if I wanted to be a Senator some day . . .

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Baccalaureate Speaker: Martha Coakley ’75

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Commencement Line-up …

… alums Jay McInerney as commencement speaker, Martha Coakley as baccalaureate speaker.

A few thoughts … I have long advocated having, all things being equal, Ephs deliver these speeches.  They are far more likely to tailor their speeches to Williams in particular, and to have something of relevance and potential resonance to impart to undergrads, as opposed to the typically trite, platitudinous, recycled commencement address (I’ve sat through or read quite a few at various institutions, and it always amazes me how uniformly bad they are).  That being said, last year’s speaker, despite being an Eph, didn’t exactly light the science quad on fire, and I find McInerney to be an odd choice.  I am guessing he will, at the very least, be charming / funny / entertaining, but it seems like Williams could have found an alum who is a bit more, errr, current.  For example, if choosing a writer, why not Bethany McLean, author of The Smartest Guys in the Room (and no, I don’t just say that because she is gorgeous) … like McInerney, smart and well-spoken, but her areas of expertise would CERTAINLY be of a lot more interest / relevance to current undergrads.  As a general rule, if someone has recently appeared on both Colbert and The Daily Show, they are likely to resonate with college kids.  Coakley, on the other hand, I think is a brilliant choice.  Everyone knows who she is, and she almost certainly will have something compelling to say about both success and failure.  As for the honorary degrees, great call honoring local luminary Stephanie Wilson (the theme, if there is one this year, seems to be Berkshire County natives, as both Coakley and McInerney also hail from the region).

The undergrads seem less than excited by McInerney as well.  A few interesting tidbits from this thread.  First, the list of speakers at small liberal arts colleges (notable exception: Maddow) shows just how hard of a time Williams and its peers appear to have in drawing big-name speakers for commencements.  Second, I thought the comment about Coakley and the Guadino Option was brilliant … (speaking of which, I think the Gaudino Option itself is a great idea).

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Blatt ’85 on Coakley ’75

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?

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Townie Wingnuttery: PTC on MA-19-JAN-2010 election

UPDATE::PTC had emailed me these comments first and I had drafted a post. I’m going to stand as proxy here for PTC, a bit. — Ken

PTC e-mailed me these further comments on Coakley’s loss. I hope that we can focus more on the substance and less on the personalities. — DK UPDATE 2: As proxy, this is my thread for now, and I’m going to set some groundrules. The first groundrule is: no namecalling. Got it?

The thread has turned into a silly debate about a blogger, rather than the issues at hand. Although I do appreciate the fact that the exchanges with HWC have made it one of the most posted threads in ephgblog history… I do wish someone would speak more to the issues that lost Coakley the election.

Yes I know… how many threads has PTC hijacked with some townie wingnuttery? I am no one to talk… I know, I know!

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Coakley reflects on loss

From The Boston Globe:

(thanks to nuts for the link)

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Coakley Will Run For AG

Despite (because of) her loss on Tuesday, Martha Coakley ’75 will run for reelection at the Massachusetts Attorney General.

Despite being stung by her devastating loss to Republican Scott Brown in the US Senate race, Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley will return to work this week and seek reelection in the fall, aides said.

“She loves her job,” said Coakley spokesman Corey Welford. “It allows her to take on issues she feels passionately about, to fight for people in the state.”

“She is going to run for reelection. Many of the issues she discussed during this campaign are issues she’s already fully engaged in as attorney general — holding Wall Street accountable, taking on predatory lenders, fighting to make health care more affordable for all our citizens,” Welford said.

Does the heavy involvement of a state attorney general in Industry X tend to raise or lower prices in Industry X? Any historians out there?

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Martha Lost the Townie Vote

PTC e-mail these comments yesterday but we never got around to posting them. Sorry! — DK

Well folks, I think today is going to be a banner day for MA Republicans. In the end, I think Coakley is going to lose on the issues. People are not happy with what the health care bill has become without the public option, and her fundraiser with big health care operatives played right into that.
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Coakley Election Live Blog!

Polls close in 10 minutes in Martha Coakley’s ’75 race for the US Senate in Massachusetts. Got something to say? Good! Add a comment to this thread. Consider this the EphBlog live blog of the election results. (Administrators (Ken, Ronit, others) should feel free to edit this post in any fashion that they think helpful.)

UPDATE: Coakley concedes. Just wait till 2012! We still have Udall . . .

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Coakley Has 1 in 5 Chance


Although the rightwingosphere is brimming with confidence, Intrade still has Martha Coakley with a 1 in 5 chance. Keep an eye on the smart money as the results start to come in . . .

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Nurse Ratched

Dan Drezner ’90 on Martha Coakley ’75:

The special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat is tomorrow, and polls have show a very tight race between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown for the past week or so. …

[T]he candidates are God awful. Seriously, they stink. Just to review our choices: Democrat Martha Coakley has a prosecutor’s complex that would make Javert seeem like a bleeding-heart liberal. She is a God-awful politician so out of touch with reality that she accused Red Sox hero extraordinaire Curt Schilling of being a Yankee fan (Schilling’s blog response is here). Based on the ads I’ve seen, her campaign has also been, by far, the nastier of the two.

This leaves Republican Scott Brown, who based on his vacuous Boston Globe op-ed, is an empty shirt with no actual policy content whatsoever. He was in favor of health care reform before he was against it. He can’t stand the run-up in government debt, and wants to cut taxes across the board to take care of the problem — cause that makes perfect economic sense. The one thing he is unequivocally for is waterboarding suspected terrorists.

Seriously, these are my mainstream choices? These people are the recipients of all the political firepower both parties can muster? I’m inundated with 24/7 political blather so I can choose between Nurse Ratched and Bob Roberts?

Indeed. Although comparing Coakley to Ratched is . . .

Twisted genius?

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Martha Choakley

From FiveThirtyEight:

It’s still not entirely clear to me that Martha Coakley will lose today. As I wrote previously, beyond the poll numbers, which have indisputably trended toward Scott Brown over the past month, almost every intangible–at least the ones the media reported and thus formed the contest’s overall narrative–favor Brown, as did the scheduling and timing of the race.

Still, this is Massachusetts, and this is Teddy Kennedy’s seat. Even though a short, six-week race in February of an off-year cycle is more than the normally disadvantaged, minority Republicans could hope for, that argument could be turned inside out, too: I mean, how much damage can a majority-party standard bearer like Coakley do to herself in such a short time?

Quite a bit, apparently. If she loses today, this may forever be remembered as the “Martha Choakley” race.

I hope not.

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ALERT!

Latest from the Coakley campaign.

Dear Friends,

We’ve received several independent and disturbing reports of voters across the state being handed ballots that are already marked in favor of Scott Brown. This is obviously a serious violation, and our legal team is taking immediate steps to protect the integrity of this election.

We do not yet know why this is happening, but you and everyone you know needs to be aware of the situation so that you can carefully inspect your ballot. If a vote has already been marked, you must return the ballot to the elections official, demand a clean ballot, and call our Voter Protection Hotline at 617-351-6866.

Please forward this email.

Massachusetts has a long and sordid history of local Republican officials misleading poorly educated liberal Ph.D. voters. It is a shame that this injustice continues today.

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Memo Full of Lies

Politico reports on the reaction of a “senior Democratic Party official” to the Coakley memo:

The campaign failed to recognize this threat, failed to keep Coakley on the campaign trail, failed to create a negative narrative about Brown, failed to stay on the air in December while he was running a brilliant campaign. It’s wishful thinking from a pollster, candidate and campaign team that were caught napping and are going to allow one of the worst debacles in American political history to happen on their watch that they are at the 11th hour are going to blame others.

Before the DNC and DSCC got involved there was barely a single piece of paper on what the narrative is on Brown. The candidate in this race and the campaign have been involved in the worst case of political malpractice in memory and they aren’t going to be able to spin themselves out of this with a memo full of lies.

Let the recriminations begin!

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DC Dems Failed Coakley

From Politico:

The Coakley campaign is bridling at finger-pointing from the White House and Washington Democrats, and an outside adviser to the campaign has provided to POLITICO a memo aimed at rebutting the charge that Coakley failed and making the case that national Democrats failed her. …

National Dems Failed to Aid Coakley Until Too Late

— Coakley campaign provided national Democrats with all poll results since early December

— Coakley campaign noted concerns about “apathy” and failure of national Democrats to contribute early in December. Coakley campaign noted fundraising concerns throughout December and requested national Democratic help.

— DNC and other Dem organizations did not engage until the week before the election, much too late to aid Coakley operation

Brown Capitalized on Concerns About National Democrats …

Correct. Although Coakley staff are eager to CTAs, I agree that 90%+ of the problem was not her fault. Mike Capuano would have faced just as many problems, and maybe even more. My Democrat friends should stop pretending that there is not widespread anger at the Democrats/Congress/Obama. There is. That anger may be unfair: unemployment would be just as high if McCain had won. Yet anger there is. Don’t believe me and my fellow Tea Partiers? See you in November!

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Mass Backward

Martha Coakley ’75 fans will not be pleased with this Jon Stewart monologue. (Hat tip to TPM.)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Mass Backwards
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

Perhaps Ronit and Jeff will like this post better . . . ;-)

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Coakley Wins!

Good news! Martha Coakley ’75 edged out Scott Brown in the election for Massachusetts senator today. I did not realize that the polls closed so early. Silly me!

Or maybe the Boston Globe is just teasing us . . .

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Dread Tea-Bagging Hordes of Williamstown

From The Corner:

But I think the Democrats have so internalized the enlightened vs. redneck narrative that they aren’t even phased by the cognitive dissonance of deploying it in Massachusetts.

Case in point: a (very dear, it should be noted) friend of mine who serves as a junior-level appointee in one of Obama’s cabinet departments wrote me to say he is taking the afternoon off to “call for Coakley.”

“I’m not sure how this is going to turn out,” he said. “But I refuse to let the tea-bagging hordes win this seat without a fight.”

Ah, yes, the dread tea-bagging hordes of Williamstown, the roving bands of mouth-breathing anarco-hooligans waging a campaign of terror that stretches from Amherst to Cambridge, from Andover to Wellesley…

Dread Tea-Bagging Hordes of Williamstown? I love it! This is my favorite Eph-related political phrase since “Limp-wristed” as applied to trustee Robert Scott ’68.

What is your favorite Eph-related example of political rhetoric?

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Coakley Rallying?

John Zogby predicts a Coakley victory. Whether this is good news or bad news depends on your opinion of Zogby . . .

Coakley is also rallying (some) on Intrade.

Never count out a good Eph woman.

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25% != 0

Nate Silver provides hope for Martha Coakley ’75.

Right now, our trusty little model of Massachusetts gives Martha Coakley just a 25 percent chance of prevailing tomorrow. Intrade also puts her odds at about 1 in 4. My subjective assessment might be a little better than that, but not much.

People are acting, however, as though 25 percent is the same as zero percent. And — as disappointing as it might be to be in this position — obviously it is not. This is not some basketball game where the score suddenly became Brown 75, Coakley 25; a 25 percent chance of winning means, quite literally, 25 percent.

Of the 86 elections that we made calls on the morning of November 4th, 2008, only 6 (the Senate election in Minnesota, and the Presidential elections in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina and North Dakota) featured contests in which the trailing candidate had a 25 percent or better chance of prevailing. The outcome of this election remains more uncertain than that of at least 90 percent of other elections, even if it’s less uncertain than it was 24 hours ago.

And yes: this is directed mostly toward my friends on the left. I would say the same to my friends on the right, but I don’t think that they need the reminder; the energy, focus and enthusiasm of those in the online right has been something to behold, and will be a force to be reckoned with even if their candidate should lose this race.

Indeed.

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Likely Loser

Mark Blumenthal on Martha Coakley’s ’75 chances:

* Of eight surveys completed and released since Wednesday, seven show Brown leading by at least a point. The one exception shows a dead heat Our chart of all polls shows a nearly seven point Brown gap between the trend lines for Brown and Coakley (51.2% to 44.3%).

* Browns’ support on our standard trend estimate has increased by nearly twelve points (from 38.5% to 51.2%) in just the last two weeks.

A trend this strong is unusual, especially in a contest between a Democrat and a Republican. We do see such surges occasionally in primary elections — the surprise victory by Creigh Deeds in last year’s surprise victory in Virginia’s Democratic primary being the most recent example — but they are far more rare in general election contests . Over the weekend, I reviewed the most competitive contests we have tracked on Pollster.com since 2006 and found no race that produced a trend anywhere near this strong over the last few weeks of the campaign.

I am sure that there are other example, but the one that stands out for me is the victory of Democrat Harris Wofford in 1991. Wofford, appointed earlier that year to fill a vacant Senate seat, began as a virtual unknown and began trailing by more than 40 points against popular former Republican Governor Dick Thornburgh. Although the final round of public polls showed the candidates running about even, Wofford’s momentum helped carry him to what turned out to be an eleven point victory margin (55 percent to 44 percent).

So for me it boils down to this: I was a Democratic consultant for long enough to want to believe that Coakley can still prevail, and there is still a remote chance that the polls in this race will be as misleading as they were in New Hampshire. However, my head is not my heart. Barring another polling meltdown, Scott Brown is the likely winner.

Indeed.

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Net Psychic Wealth

Megan McArdle on Martha Coakley ’75.

So the polls have Martha Coakley in free-fall, and even Nate Silver, who’s been pretty pessismistic on Brown, says the FiveThirtyEight forecasting model puts Brown at a 3:1 chance of winning. Intrade also has her at 25 cents on the dollar.

I confess, I can’t quite believe it. It’s Massachusetts. Teddy Kennedy’s seat. And special elections are notoriously difficult to poll–many of the results rely on educated guesses about the makeup of the electorate tomorrow. I’m very tempted to take a flyer on Ms. Coakley’s chances, at 3:1.

And even if I thought those numbers were about right, it might make sense as a way to hedge my net psychic wealth. If Scott Brown wins, I’m happy–and if Martha Coakley wins, at least I get $50 or so to drown my sorrows.

As an extreme-small-federal government Eph, I am perfectly hedged. If Coakley wins, I am happy: Another Eph in the Senate! If Coakley loses I am happy: Slower growth of the Federal Government!

It is win-win.

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Mess of a Candidate

Ezra Klein on Martha Coakley ’75:

The White House was trying to avoid this, it seemed. They didn’t want the risk of campaigning for Martha Coakley in Massachusetts and losing the seat anyway. But that’s not as bad as not campaigning for Martha Coakley and losing health-care reform. So Obama heads to the Bay State on Sunday. But this is about more than just Obama’s presence. If you look at the rationale Mike Allen is getting from the administration, Obama is heading down there because Coakley can be “saved.” Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod “called around,” apparently.

My hunch is that Obama’s visit is as much about changing the narrative as energizing the Bay State base. By taking the risk of going down to Massachusetts, the White House is signaling that they think Coakley will be able to win — or else why would they dare go? And that’s important for tripping up Brown’s momentum, as the media narrative was shifting towards something closer to anointment. It also nationalizes the election a bit. Now it’s a fight between Obama and the Republicans, not just Coakley and Brown.

But boy, has Coakley been a mess of a candidate.

Blaming Coakley for losing to Brown is like blaming Dick Thornburgh for losing to Harris Wofford. Do any EphBlog readers really believe that Mike Capuanno (the very picture of a Massachusetts machine politician) would be doing any better?

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