Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

The Massachusetts Special Election, The Energized Base and ENDA

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | January 19, 2010 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Martha Coakley, Massachusetts, Massachusetts special election, Scott Brown

The key to today's special election in Massachusetts is how many people will turn out. Comparatively few turn out for a special election, so it all turns on whose base is more energized.

World's most easily hacked voting machineJudging from my family, the base is fairly sleepy. My son lives in Massachusetts, and just turned 18 a few months ago. I was on him right after his birthday: "Didja register to vote yet?"

"Register?" he said blankly. "You have to register?"

"That's right, " I said, with a vaguely threatening air. "Call the Mass Board of Elections, or whatever it's called there. They'll hook you up."

"Okay," he said hollowly. But he did it, and it actually wasn't that easy. The website wasn't working, and he called them, and there was some back and forth about whether they had any registration cards left, or whether he had called the right place, or gosh knows what. You know how they are when a young person calls. Heck, I know how I am.

When I spoke to him last week, he said yes, he was going to vote. Going to vote for "the Democrat?" he said tentatively. "Coakley," I reminded him. "Yeah, whatever." he said.

When I called him last night, he sounded a bit surprised. I confirmed that he didn't realize the election was today, didn't know where his polling place is, and didn't know how he was going to get there. "Ah, okay, uh-huh" I temporized, not wanting to impulsively ding him and make it even less likely that he would find his wandering way to the voting booth.

"Mom!" he yelled, trying to get my ex-wife's attention.

Fortunately, she knew where the polling place is, and supposedly they went together this morning at 7. Though he didn't answer his phone when I called at 7:30, and since I know how he loathes voicemail, I sent him a text message. I did get through at 8:15, and they were just going out the door. I told him to call me afterwards to tell me how it went. It's hard work creating engaged citizens out of 18 year olds. I'm hopeful, though.

I'm equally hopeful about the election of Martha Coakley. With my son in Western Mass for the last dozen years, and my 4 years in Boston for a grad degree, I know the people of Massachusetts are pretty ornery. I heard on the radio this morning that over 50% of them consider themselves independents. Scott Brown is a pretty energetic guy, and they like spunk. But ultimately I believe that the Democratic base is more energized than the Republican one. Since comparatively few people turn out for a special election, the question of Coakley's popularity is the wrong question. Is the base energized? I think the Democrats are more energized than the Republicans, but we shall see. Of course, the fact that the Diebold voting machines being used in Massachusetts are easily hackable is not very confidence inspiring. (I linked a conspiracy theorist story to the picture above, which figures the Dems are going to hack the machines to let Coakley win. It actually makes an interesting case, but as much as I want a win, I hope it's wrong.)

It's pretty clear that Scott Brown, if elected, will vote against ENDA. He opposes every LGBT civil rights intiative, including the Massachusetts State ENDA law now pending before the Massachusetts legislature. Martha Coakley, on the other hand, is certain to vote for ENDA.

Currently, including Paul Kirk, the sitting Senator from Massachusetts, I count 56 likely yes votes. There are 9 possible yeses waiting in the wings. I am quite certain we can get 4 out of those 9. If Scott Brown wins, the numbers change to 55 likely yes votes. I am far less certain we can get 5 out of the 9 possible yeses.

If Scott Brown wins, I will be forced to start scaling back my previous optimism on ENDA.

If you know someone in Masschusetts, or you know someone who knows someone, I would strongly suggest you call them if you want ENDA, or health care reform, or anything else on our progressive agenda.

If you want to help call people to get the vote out, click here. There are clear, simple instructions and telephone numbers of Massachusetts voters. I did it, and it's not as hard as you think even if you're shy. I strongly recommend you make a few calls. Strangely, it gives me a huge energy boost, because I feel that I'm doing my best to make a difference


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We live near a station and we had trouble backing out of our driveway for the traffic today. I know that my oldest will vote for the republican and that my 19 year old will vote for the democrat. My house and family is split on votes with the straight people usually voting republican and the queer people usually voting democrat, though in the presidential election some of the straight people voted for Obama.

Funny that you see the democrat base more charged. As I see it, it's quite the opposite. All the signs point otherwise. With democrats in MA outnumbering republicans 3-1 and Coakley behind in every poll it's obvious that democrats and independents have issues with her.

Now today we have Barney Frank now wanting to sabotage Senate rules in anticipation of Coakley loss. Oh, the games the democrats will play.

The Coakley campaign continues to ignore electioneering laws in Massachusettes (that's how Marcia spells it). See here; http://ow.ly/YgOV and here: http://ow.ly/YgWS

Marcia, as Patrick Kennedy refers to her, doesn't have much going for her in this race, and I get the feeling your son may have voted for Brown. Just guessing. :)

And this from Politico.


A Democratic operative familiar with Martha Coakley and the DSCC's massive get-out-the-vote operation says that outreach workers in and around Boston have been stunned by the number of Democrats and Obama supporters who are waving them off, saying they'll vote for Scott Brown.

Also, Pelosi is now considering the senate bill, which will start taxing union healthcare benefits almost immediately. She doesn't care about them, she only cares about a personal victory against the right.

All of us on the right are having a belly-shaking laugh right now. Tonight will be interesting, indeed.

P.S. This isn't really Coakley's race, it's Obama's, and his to lose.

Currently, including Paul Kirk, the sitting Senator from Massachusetts, I count 56 likely yes votes. There are 9 possible yeses waiting in the wings. I am quite certain we can get 4 out of those 9. If Scott Brown wins, the numbers change to 55 likely yes votes. I am far less certain we can get 5 out of the 9 possible yeses.

There are 9 "unknown" votes. Calling them "possible yeses waiting in the wings" is misleading. They are probable NO votes because of the beliefs of their constituents. Suggesting they are possible "yeses" is suggesting courage from these 9 politicians that won't even go on the record.

Now, suggesting that the outcome in Massachusetts will change your math looks like the beginning of an excuse.

Public opinion about our community is suffering from notable defeats. Our continued obsession with politics is not saving us - it's hurting us.

Who'd have thought that I'd be here agreeing with you, Andrew?

We lost in Maine, and the perception of our political strength and influsnce waned.

We recklessly decided to force a certain defeat vote in New York, and the perception of our political relevance withered further...

Then, we decided, after defections were already underway, to force a vote in New Jersey and became a political irrelevancy on the National scene as far as influence with the Democrats, a minority that there is no cost at all within the party in opposing...

We NEED a strategy.

This obsessive reliance on politics is delaying our equality.