"Destined To Lose"

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on January 17, 2010


As Martha Coakley’s campaign continues to implode, Democrats appear to have given up all hope:

Here in Massachusetts, as well as in Washington, a growing sense of gloom is setting in among Democrats about the fortunes of Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley. “I have heard that in the last two days the bottom has fallen out of her poll numbers,” says one well-connected Democratic strategist. In her own polling, Coakley is said to be around five points behind Republican Scott Brown. “If she’s not six or eight ahead going into the election, all the intensity is on the other side in terms of turnout,” the Democrat says. “So right now, she is destined to lose.”

Intensifying the gloom, the Democrat says, is the fact that the same polls showing Coakley falling behind also show President Obama with a healthy approval rating in the state. “With Obama at 60 percent in Massachusetts, this shouldn’t be happening, but it is,” the Democrat says.

The next paragraph appears to aptly sum up the Democratic strategy from here on out: Protect President Obama from appearing to have no electoral pull amongst Bay State residents, and make Coakley the scapegoat for her campaign’s failures. She should, of course, bear primary responsibility for setting herself up to lose, but it is a tangible sign of Democratic despair that we are getting the following kind of talk:

Given those numbers, some Democrats, eager to distance Obama from any electoral failure, are beginning to compare Coakley to Creigh Deeds, the losing Democratic candidate in the Virginia governor’s race last year. Deeds ran such a lackluster campaign, Democrats say, that his defeat could be solely attributed to his own shortcomings, and should not be seen as a referendum on President Obama’s policies or those of the national Democratic party.

I suppose that a miracle is possible for the Coakley campaign. Who knows? Perhaps we have all completely misread the situation. But the smell of death pervades the effort to keep the seat formerly occupied by Ted Kennedy into Democratic hands. And what more devastating rejection of the Democratic agenda could there be than if the Democrats were to lose the seat?

Of course, I suppose that on some level, it ought to come as no surprise whatsoever that a politician who decided to cast a superdelegate vote for Hillary Clinton as late as May of 2008, despite the fact that Barack Obama was clearly going to be the Democratic nominee, would run a campaign as bad as the one Martha Coakley has run.

UPDATE: No sooner do I post something about the campaign for the Massachusetts Senate seat, than I find other stuff worth adding.

First off, it appears that the Democrats now want to show that Scott Brown is a birther. As Ben Smith points out, this is ridiculous, and while I wish that Brown didn’t make the aside he made, “[t]he fact that Obama’s mother was young and had to marry on the fly (his mother was pregnant when they were married in Feburary, 1981) is central to his biography, as is his father’s absence, and while Brown seems confused on that biographical point, he doesn’t suggest in any way that he’s aligned with the Birthers.” So much, then, for the latest attempt to slime and smear.

It’s “game on” for Republican attorneys:

Appointed Senator Paul Kirk will lose his vote in the Senate after Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts of a new senator and cannot be the 60th vote for Democratic health care legislation, according to Republican attorneys.

Kirk has vowed to vote for the Democratic bill even if Republican Scott Brown is elected but not yet certified by state officials and officially seated in the Senate. Kirk’s vote is crucial because without the 60 votes necessary to stop a Republican filibuster, the bill will be defeated.

This would be a devastating loss for President Obama and congressional Democrats. The bill, dubbed ObamaCare, is the centerpiece of the president’s agenda. Brown has campaigned on becoming the 41st vote against ObamaCare.

But in the days after the election, it is Kirk’s status that matters, not Brown’s. Massachusetts law says that an appointed senator remains in office “until election and qualification of the person duly elected to fill the vacancy.” The vacancy occurred when Senator Edward Kennedy died in August. Kirk was picked as interim senator by Governor Deval Patrick.

Democrats in Massachusetts have talked about delaying Brown’s “certification,” should he defeat Democrat Martha Coakley on Tuesday. Their aim would be to allow Kirk to remain in the Senate and vote the health care bill.

But based on Massachusetts law, Senate precedent, and the U.S. Constitution, Republican attorneys said Kirk will no longer be a senator after election day, period. Brown meets the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in the Constitution to qualify for the Senate. “Qualification” does not require state “certification,” the lawyers said.

I haven’t done the legal research on this issue to be able to comment, but I have my doubts that Kirk will stop being a Senator in the event that Brown gets elected. Just off the top of my head, I don’t think that is the case. Still, it is clear that there is an effort afoot to delay Brown’s certification so that Kirk will have more time to vote in the Senate–and so that he will use that time to vote for health care reform. That effort ought to have been denounced eons ago by Massachusetts and national Democrats, but alas, we have only heard the chirping of crickets thus far. For his part, Kirk himself says only that a new Senator would be sworn in “as quickly as possible,” whatever that means.

Oh good grief, but this would be hilarious:

Joe Lieberman may be close to announcing his suppport for Massachusetts Senate Candidate Scott Brown. Citing the historical Healthcare Reform Bill as the main issue attracting Lieberman to endorse Brown’s Campaign. Scott Brown is vehemently opposed to the proposed Healthcare Legislation.

No sources are cited for the proposition that Lieberman is set to announce his support, for Brown, but in the event that he does, watching Democratic heads explode will become the latest hot spectator activity.

Meanwhile, Brown continues to lead in Coakley tracking polls. That ought to come as no surprise, given this:

As the two candidates running in the special Senate election here barnstormed across the state Saturday, the enthusiasm gap between the two parties was on vivid display.

Democrat Martha Coakley, Massachusetts’ attorney general, kicked off a series of stops with a morning speech at a Boston union hall, receiving a response more polite than enthusiastic.

Coakley and Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late senator, both addressed a crowd of about 100 electrical workers but it fell to a state representative from nearby Dorchester to deliver the closing remarks aimed at firing up the Democrats.

“I see there is some excitement in this room but there is not enough excitement in this room,” Martin Walsh said, as the heavily male, Carhartt-and-jeans crowd stood with hands in pockets.

There was no need for such an exhortation on Cape Cod as state Sen. Scott Brown, the Republican nominee, was enveloped by a couple hundred, sign-waving supporters as he attempted to walk into a local pub where another hundred voters waited for an afternoon rally.

“People’s seat, people’s seat!” the Hyannis crowd chanted, aping the retort Brown gave at a debate Monday when asked about “the Kennedy seat.”

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