There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about what a poor campaigner Martha Coakley has been, and there's some truth to that. She's not a natural politician - she's a lawyer, and as such, she builds her case and then has to accept the verdict. While she's won elections as Middlesex County DA and MA Attorney General, she's not a natural fit for the kind of campaigning a Senate race requires, and she is the complete antithesis of the teabagging Himbo running against her. While she beat a sitting Congressman, the founder of City Year, and a venture capitalist in the primary, she was able to stay "above the fray" because of her name recognition statewide and, in my opinion, the Democratic primary voters DESIRE to send a woman to the Senate.
One of the worst-kept secrets of Massachusetts politics is the inherent sexism in the system. For a progressive state (that voted for Hillary in the primary DESPITE Kennedy's endorsement of Obama)we have a pretty pathetic record in electing women to Federal office. Until Nikki Tsongas was elected to replace Marty Meehan, the last time we sent a woman to Washington was the unlamented Margaret Heckler. We've had 1 female Governor, Jane Swift, who was elevated to the office when Bush named Gov. Paul Cellucci Ambassador to Canada. Swift was planning to run for the office in her own right until Mitt "I won't run against an incumbent Republican" Romney decided to kneecap her in the primary. Massachusetts politics is dominated by the Democratic party, but that doesn't necessarily extend to women in the Democratic party (see O'Brien, Shannon.)
While I think it's entirely fair to say that Coakley's campaign was caught flat footed, there is more than enough blame to go around. Where was our Senior Senator, John Kerry? Where was Bob Menendez and the DSCC? For that matter, why did it take so long to get the DNC's attention and why did they wait so late in the game to bring in the heavy artillery? Brown never should have been allowed to get this close. It's convenient to blame Martha Coakley, and she deserves her share of the blame for this mess, but not ALL of it. The guy who's got to have steam coming out of his ears is Mike Capuano, who would have wiped the floor with this Romney-esque empty suit. If today doesn't go our way, he may get another chance in 2012.
If Massachusetts becomes a cautionary tale for the mid-terms, the lesson is this - Democrats no longer own online organizing. Someone in the Brown campaign clearly went to school on the use of new media - Facebook, Twitter, web ads, and most importantly in Massachusetts, he has been scrupulous in keeping his party affiliation quiet. He never identifies himself as a Republican in his commercials, web ads, lawn signs. The 3rd party money for his attack ads is being funneled through the US Chamber of Commerce. There is never any mention of the RNC or the RSCC, or that he's voted with the Republicans 96% of the time. Coakley has until recently had a minimal online presence. Why is that? Why didn't anyone interested in maintaining the 60 seats in the Senate spot this glaring hole in their defenses?
If the Brown campaign has figured this strategy out, look for it to go national for the mid-terms...and get ready, because if you thought the August Town Halls were ugly, you ain't seen nothing.