Scott Brown, (R) for Mass. 2010 Senate - image Boston.com
The race to fillthe late Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat, has three contenders confirmed as of October 16th. Scott Brown, the Republican State Senator, filed 17,000 (10,000 required) signatures with the Secretary of State’s office, with U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano filing “more than” 10,000 (according to the Springfield Republican), and State Attorney General, Martha Coakley, filed “approximately 17,000” signatures. The deadline for filing for party affiliated candidates is October 20th; non-affiliated candidates have until Nov. 20th to file with the Secretary of State. State primaries will take place on December 8th, with the general election taking place on January 19th, 2010. As of this writing, candidates Stephen Pagliuca, Boston Celtics Owner (Democrat), Alan Khazei (Democrat) and Bob Burr, Canton Selectman (Republican) have yet to file the necessary signatures, leaving Coakley and Capuano to face off in the Democrat primary.
Michael Capuano will face Coakley in Senate Primary - image Masslive
It’s all about the cash:
According to the Boston Globe, (full data not yet available on FEC Website for this election) Coakley has over 2 million on hand, Capuano $344,000 and Brown $179,000; (which may or may not include a maximum contribution from Mitt Romney's PAC, also of note Brown is the only candidate to date to receive funds from Romney) giving the Globe the nod to name Coakley as the clear front runner. In the battle for the hearts and minds of the disaffected and financially strapped citizens of the Commonwealth, most of whom are unenrolled (showing no party affiliation); a “reasonable person” would assume that the candidate with the most cash on hand automatically wins, especially if that candidate in Massachusetts is a Democrat.
That said looking at not too distant past race, the 2008 Republican Iowa Caucus brings that theory to naught. Mitt Romney spent millions in Iowa, drove a bus across the state, and was soundly trumped by little known (at the time) Mike Huckabee who spent a little more than $80,000 – total. It was a sound grassroots campaign that combined dedicated grassroots support with a savvy web team; that took down Goliath (Romney).
Martha Coakley (D) MA Senate Candidate, image: metrowest.com
Additionally, Coakley did pick up the endorsement of the SEIU, otherwise known as the White House “Union of Choice”, leaving one to conclude that Ms. Coakley is looked upon favorably as a “progressive”. Therefore, a primary between Capuano and Coakley, would, in all probability, place Coakley on the ballot to face Brown.
Name recognition and the media:
In the Suffolk University Poll conducted on September 15, (the only poll to include all candidates), Coakley, The State’s Attorney General, has the best showing, with only 12% unknown, 53% favorable, 16% unfavorable, and 19% undecided. Capuano received, 33% unknown, 16% favorable, 14% unfavorable and 37% undecided. Finally, Brown had a 39% unknown, a 20% favorable, a 13% unfavorable and 28% undecided. Looking at the favorable, Coakley has the clear lead, and is the best known (being the State’s Attorney General), that said, Brown, bests Capuano in favorable, and had, as of that poll, the highest unknown percentage. Both Capuano and Coakley are running television ads, most likely in the Eastern portion of the State, and having the larger budgets to date, need to first play to the base and those unenrolled inclined to vote for a Democrat in 2010.
How do the candidates stack up with the ever growing importance of social media? (Which, more than one social media firm suggest that the Obama campaigns use of social media networks secured his election.) Face Book: Martha Coakley (See SEIU), has 3,781 friends on her personal page and 4,681 “fans”, Capuano has 866 supporters and Brown, has 4,563 friends on his personal page, with 4,151 “fans”. This gives Brown, to date, a slight edge on Coakley. On the other major network site “Twitter”, Brown has 736 followers, with Martha Coakley at 794. While these numbers in Social Networking terms are miniscule at best, it is interesting to note that the two front runners are evenly matched.
The Election in General
First, Coakley must get through the primary against Capuano, who has time to get his message across the entire Commonwealth thereby increasing his name recognition, bringing up his favorability. Additionally, Massachusetts has yet to elect a woman to a major high profile office (Govenor, or Senate), therefore, despite cash and name recognition, Coakley also faces the Massachusetts Glass Ceiling within her own party first. Should she make it through the primary she will then face Republican, Scott Brown, who would have had the time to court the unenrolled, boost his name recognition with not only media buys, but grassroots county by county appearances. From the primary on December 8th to the General Election on January 19th, both candidates must secure their base, and more importantly the unenrolleds, Coakley has the additional burden of gender. Although Clinton did receive the most votes in the 2008 primary in the Bay State (a proud moment for Massachusetts), she was soundly rebuked by Kennedy and Kerry who came out with an early endorsement for Obama. Given this Scenario it is not a “given” that the next Senator from Massachusetts will be a Democrat, rather it would lend to a tighter race than anticipated. Harvard Law Apparently Agrees
Note on Polls
The Suffolk polls methodology, 8% of those polled are from Suffolk University, (which may or may not include a Conservative or two) and the voter registration makeup is slightly skewed: Democrats 39% (2008 actual 36.7%), Republicans 15% (2008 actual 11.62%) and Unenrolled 44% (2008 actual 50.75%) (source Mass. Secretary of State In the scenario according to Suffolk, both major parties were given a larger percentage - and the unenrolled, were underrepresented by 6% - with a margin of error of + or – “4.4%”.