It remains to be seen just what Tuesday will bring here in Massachusetts as well as the country. Though I still think Coakley can/will eke out a victory, my own prediction of her closing strong and winning by close to double digits seems quite absurd. But I think there are two valuable lessons to be learned.
First, not only do voters turn away from what they perceive to be coronation campaigns, but it is damn near impossible to change their minds once that perception has been cemented. The past couple of weeks here in Massachusetts have been filled with messages from prominent Democrats and their allies for Martha Coakley. And while there has been some re-engagement among the party’s base, the independent voters do not seem to be responding. In fact, these appeals may be having a negative effect as it feels as if the political machine is circling the wagons for one of its own, which plays into Brown’s (dubious) claim of independence.
The other lesson here, and one that is sure to be missed by Democrats in DC, is that the party cannot fail to deliver on its promises of the past two elections and expect its base to remain engaged, committed and active. Unfortunately the folks in DC will take the closeness of this race as evidence that the party needs to trim its sails. But scaling back their agenda, whether on the economy or environment, will only serve to alienate not only the base, but the independents who gave Democrats both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. If Democrats do not make some substantial progress towards their goals, November is going to be a very, very bad month for the party.