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Not long after the Warren campaign set up shop in Lowell, I sat down with Andrew Howe to get a sense of the game plan. We both knew that, in Lowell, Brown had beat Coakley by 1001 votes in a low turnout election. We speculated that turnout would be much better and that the party demographics favored Warren, but we also honestly weighed the potential for Brown to match any gains we could make, via turnout.
In those early days, we considered a near win, a dead even match, or a slight win to be good enough for Warren, here in Lowell. If Warren could run up the margins in Boston and strong progressive towns and cities, we would have been happy to be within a nose, here in Lowell. But, then the volunteers started pouring in.
As it turned out:
On Monday I posted my ground-eye view of the state’s local Democratic campaign. Now, we’re through the other side and lots of people are examining what went right and, though you might not see it, anything that went wrong. (People love a success and cluck at a failure, after all.) After the Coakley disaster, the state Democratic party, headed up by John Walsh, did some serious soul searching. Since grassroots campaigning is Walsh’s stock in trade, I’m not sure that there was much he could have done during that January, 2010 special election, if the candidate wasn’t accepting advice. And certainly, Coakley, while a smart prosecutor and an OK stumper, was not the sort of candidate to inspire the grassroots to action in the middle of a cold month and a short lead time.
But examine it the party did anyway, and came up with the coordinated campaign idea. In 2010, the coordinated campaign reelected Deval Patrick to the Governorship in the middle of a pretty tough year for incumbents, and the “red wave” that swept the rest of the country largely passed us by, losing the Dems only some seats in the House and gaining them one in the state Senate. Even the gains for Republicans (15 to 30 state House seats) weren’t enough to disturb the Dem supermajority.
I worked on that campaign a bit in 2010, and there were some bugs to work out with the coordinated campaign. For instance, there was always tension between turning out voters for local races that might not vote for Patrick, and vice versa. Everyone worked together, but there was some grumbling. When the results of working together became apparent (fewer losses in MA, a reelection for Patrick despite the economy), I think those concerns were alleviated. The efficiency of shared resources overcame the peculiarities of local vs. statewide campaigns. (more…)
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