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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The GOP’s Massachussets Dreamin’

The special election in Massachusetts next week to fill the late Edward Kennedy’s Senate term is rapidly becoming the national Republican Party’s maximum goal. The occasion–a low-turnout-special election in which Republicans are pre-mobilized and many Democrats are indifferent–is highly favorable to the little-known GOP candidate, Scott Brown. The stakes are very large. Aside from the symbolism involved in winning Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat in the home state of Barney Frank and John Kerry, Brown could and would personally derail final passage of a health care reform conference report in the Senate.
The polls on this race show Brown closing on Democrat Martha Coakley, but only if turnout follows a heavily pro-GOP pattern, much like the pattern Republicans hope for all across the country this autumn. As Nate Silver notes today, a Rasmussen poll showing a virtual dead heat also shows likely voters in this race giving Barack Obama a 57% approval rating. So it’s clear: Republicans are nationalizing this contest among Bay State voters; so, too, should Democrats.
If they do, and there’s any sort of decent Democratic GOTV effort, then GOP hopes for winning this race will probably turn out to be no more than Massachusetts Dreamin’.

2 comments on “The GOP’s Massachussets Dreamin’

  1. George Ortega on

    One last point. We tend to hold it as gospel truth that once in power, a party can no longer motivate its base by attacking the opposition. That attitude is all myth and no substance. We may not be able to attack Bush as directly now as we did back then, but we can, and should, ruthlessly, attack the Republicans in Congress who are doing their damnedest to block everything President Obama wants to do for America.
    We took Congress in 2006 largely by attacking Republicans and their policies, and we won the White House in 2008 again largely by attacking Republicans and their policies. Are today’s Republicans any different than the Republicans we attacked last year? You’re darned right they’re not. We either persistently attack Republicans as the problem they continue to be, or risk that voters will conclude that Republicans have somehow ceased to be the problem, and start thinking that maybe we Democrats have become the problem. The best way to ensure that voters don’t make that mistake is to campaign against the Republicans with the same strategies, tactics and aggressiveness that worked so well for us in 2006 and 2008.

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  2. George Ortega on

    An Obama team and Democratic Party that was so successful in 2008 should not have to struggle to win races like this one in Massachusetts.
    Yes, health care, jobs and other legislative initiatives are important, but considering that we can only do as much as we’re strong enough to do, elections need to be equally important.
    Losing the Governorships in New Jersey and Virginia should have been enough of a wake-up call for our Party leaders. The possibility of losing our 60 seat Senate majority next week should be the last call they should need.
    Obama was a community organizer. We broke all kinds of records in voter registration and GOTV in 2008. It’s time that our entire Party, from our Leaders down to our lowliest bloggers understood that in order to do what we want to do, we need to be in campaign mode all year, every year.
    I hope we’re wise enough to spend at least as much time and attention between now and November plotting exactly how we will win more seats in the House and Senate (which, contrary to what too many of even our pundits are saying is quite possible), than we spend immersed in long legislative battles like health care and the upcoming jobs push.
    The best way to get an unmotivated base energized is to put us to work. I hope our party leaders start doing that soon, at least with regard to our most dedicated members, so that come November we can focus more on winning than on not losing.

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