Jon Stewart goes over just some of the incompetence from the Coakley campaign. Did you know she went on vacation just a couple weeks before the election? Or that Scott Brown held more three times the number of public events than Coakley did?
There are three dominant explanations for Coakley's loss right now:
- Voters were tired of socialism/big government/health care/liberalism/tax increases so they voted for the right-winger.
- Martha Coakley was an incompetent campaigner, the DNC didn't help, and Scott Brown ran a good campaign.
- The base was depressed because Obama and national Democrats haven't delivered on their campaign promises.
We won't know the truth, because to know it would require us to conduct exit polls of people who didn't show up to the election because the people who stayed home made a decision that affected the outcome of this election, too. Plus most people probably don't know themselves exactly what made them vote a certain way or not vote at all.
I suspect there are a few voters who'd actually be in several of the categories at once: they know something is still wrong, that the economy isn't improving and the banksters are still getting away with what they were doing before, so they voted for the person who had a more coherent message, even if that message was all about deficits. Brown was speaking to people's populist anger ("the people's seat," etc.) and, even though his solutions to the current recession won't work, at least he sounded like he'd address the problem.
But the dominant narrative in the end it most likely to be the first, at least among the political establishment. Congressional Democrats and the White House would do well to just ignore it and try to learn the real lessons of this election, but I doubt they will. A real-live tea bagger just won a Senate race in Massachusetts! Run to the right for your lives!
Oh, and I think it's obvious that Brown will be on shaky ground in 2012. Who should Massachusetts Democrats run against him?
Update: Add a #4 to that list, racism and sexism:
Donny Deutsch led off. "It's interesting, we've obviously had our first African-American president, we've had the female candidates and whatnot," Deutsch opined. "You look at him, and he looks like the real candidate, the traditional candidate. And is there a visceral comfort in that to people? I'm just curious." You tell us, Donny.
Mike Barnicle threw in his trademark sexism: "He looks like the high school football coach, who everybody knows, and he's running against the substitute teacher who takes no interest in her classroom students." (Yes, just the way Hillary Clinton reminded every man of his first wife. Stay classy, Mike Barnicle!) Peggy Noonan greeted that with a loopy "Ha ha ha ha!" I kid you not, watch below.
Then Noonan let loose: "There's something else going on. He's a sort of a new sort of a Republican. Old style was a Boston Brahmin liberal Republican ... This is something new now: He's a regular guy, looks like an American, from the middle or self-made into a middle-, upper-middle-class guy. We're seeing an evolution of what a Republican is now." [...]
But something else is also true: Scott Brown is riding a wave of discomfort with big change in our society and in Washington -- not only with big government, but with exactly who runs big government. The influence of the tea partiers and the GOP fringe on Brown's success can't be overstated. In the Washington Independent David Weigel quoted a phone-banker who had a dreamy Brown supporter tell her the GOP insurgent was "the white Obama." Ah, so that's what we need, a white Obama?
As Noonan, Deutsch and Barnicle went on and on about Brown's appeal as a "traditional candidate" and high school football coach, I couldn't help thinking about his centerfold in Cosmopolitan. Now, I like beefcake as much as the next gal, and I'm happy to let the GOP be the party of sexual Puritanism. I still have to say: No female candidate would ever survive a race for Senate with a photo spread like that in her past. It's unthinkable. The double standard is appalling.
But then it's always been clear there are different standards for a guy who "looks like an American."
Although I doubt that'll gain much traction. The big political media participate in casual racism and sexism, they don't critique it.
Update II: More evidence of confusion from voters in this election:
HEALTH CARE BILL OPPONENTS THINK IT "DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH"
by 3 to 2 among Obama voters who voted for Brown
by 6 to 1 among Obama voters who stayed home
(18% of Obama supporters who voted supported Brown.)
VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT THE PUBLIC OPTION
82% of Obama voters who voted for Brown
86% of Obama voters who stayed home
OBAMA VOTERS WANT DEMOCRATS TO BE BOLDER
57% of Brown voters say Obama "not delivering enough" on change he promised
49% to 37% among voters who stayed home
It's hard to get a real feel for candidates in a month, especially when one isn't campaigning that much. Hopefully this message will get to the people who need to hear it.