How Not to Win a Senate Race

Although the three major polls of the MA Senate race show different results, the bottom line is that Martha Coakley has turned what should have been a cakewalk into an actual race. And therein lies the problem. Team Coakley assumed that once clear of the primary, she was going to be the next senator from MA. That type of assumption is a cardinal sin in politics.

Though MA is a blue state, no one likes a coronation campaign. The hubris and arrogance drive undecideds away from what might be their common electoral home. In addition, failure to engage an opponent is, with very rare exceptions, a phenomenal blunder. Not only will it allow your opponent to take swipes at you unanswered, but you will also come under fire from editorial boards and others who believe in an active civic dialogue.

Team Coakley has done all these things in spades. She was not on the air after the primary and did minimal advertising through the holidays. And she was not exactly blazing up the campaign trail either. Only recently has she gone back up, and not in a particularly aggressive manner. She has failed to make the case that she deserves to be our next senator.

That this race could be within ten points is a testament to how poorly her campaign has been managed. Sure, there are challenges outside of her control (unpopular Dem governor, among others), but there is simply no good reason that a right wing former model ought to be even close in MA. Coakley has not gone after Brown or his record nearly enough. Instead, she and her campaign simply assumed that having a D next to her name was sufficient to win. But voters do not often reward hubris.


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