(Cross-posted at Elliot Politics)
(Note, I started this diary a little while ago when there seemed to be a bit of a deluge of commentators arguing about how we can't underestimate Gomez and about how we'll need to fight tooth and nail for the seat, that seems to have calmed down, but I still think it's worth posting this, and I don't really want to waste all the time I spent doing my research)
So I've noticed that there's been a lot of people who seem to be worried about Scott Brown 2.0 in Republican Gabriel Gomez as we attempt to hold the Senate seat that was vacated by now Secretary of State John Kerry. I'm going to say right here that there's a lot of misplaced worry happening here and that Democratic Congressman Ed Markey should be viewed as basically the next senator from Massachusetts.
Yes, I know, this is probably enough to elicit cries of “don’t you remember how Scott Brown won?!” or “what about Republican dominance of the governor’s mansion?!” Well, I’m here to answer those questions, and explain definitively why Markey is guaranteed a double-digit win over Gomez.
So before I go into more details, I want to make something clear, this is not meant to rehash the question of whether Obama was right or not to pick John Kerry for Secretary of State. It’s extremely unproductive and just leads to flame wars. So please, don’t mention it in the comments.
Let’s go below the fold and I’ll explain why I’m so confident that Markey is going to win, and by a blowout:
So here’s the basic scenario we have: A special election for the Senate involving a long-standing sitting member of the House against a businessman/former Navy Seal/Rich Dude in a state that tends to strongly favor members of the congressman’s party, with polling and fundraising both favoring the congressman’s party (and did I mention that the Rich Dude has a minor scandal?) With all of this being said, let break these down one-by-one.
Reason One: The Candidates
I’ve already explained the basics, but let me go into details, the Democrat in this race is Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts’s fifth congressional district and the Republican is novice candidate and businessman Gabriel Gomez. There’s our first big clue, Gomez has no experience running for any office, this increases the likelihood of gaffes and of technical errors.
One thing I've heard from people involving candidates from relatively safe districts/offices is that they may be rusty at campaigning, or may not be up to running a competitive campaign against a strong opponent, this can be a concern, but I also think it’s something that’s very much overstated, and is more likely to be a concern for those who haven't held office for a while (see former Governor Tommy Thompson for a good example).
Reason Two: The Polling
So right now, all polling, without exception, has Markey leading Gomez (most polling appears to have Markey leading by at least 6, with a high of 15 points). Of course, this is Massachusetts, the Democrat should be leading the Republican, and my argument isn't that Markey is simply going to win, it's that he's going to win big (guaranteed double digits, and my actual prediction would be by at least 15). So polling doesn't seem to back up my greater point, but I would actually argue that the current polling, if you look close enough, puts Gomez in a more precarious position than it appears.
One interesting observation made by David Nir of Daily Kos Elections is that the tighter the likely voter screen, the wider the margin between Markey and Gomez (the poll with the widest margin for Markey also has the tightest screen for voters). This does make sense to me, and it might lead some people to conclude that a tighter screen will cause problems (such as it tended to do in the 2012 presidential race). However, and this is a big however, this isn't a widely publicized presidential race where there's going to be a lot of organic turnout among partisans, this is a special election being held in June where hard core partisans are the most likely to turn out (and in Massachusetts, that means Democrats have an inherent advantage).
Reason Three: Fundraising
So we come to the money game, and this is definitely where Markey has a big advantage over Gomez (a caveat here, the fundraising bumbers for both candidates is a month and a half old right as of this writing). Markey has had a massive fundraising advantage over Gomez, the last fundraising report showed Markey having raised the over $4 million (with roughly the same cash on hand thanks to money he transferred from his House campaign) while Gomez has only raised a bit over $1 million (with $600k of which coming from self funding).
For some more perspective, Scott Brown had to raise over $15 million in his own successful race against Coakley.
Reason Four: It's Freaking Massachusetts
I saved this one for last for a good reason, and that's because I don't think I should have to elaborate on this (I'm going to because I already know what the responses are going to be if I don't). Obviously Barack Obama won the state by over 20 points both in 2008 and 2012, but even past that, Democrats absolutely dominate at the federal, state, and local levels. Outside of Scott Brown’s victory in 2010, Democrats have controlled both Senate seats for decades, have held every congressional district in the state since 1997 (even holding onto the least Democratic seat in the state with a very weak incumbent against a very strong Republican challenge), and absolutely have dominated the state legislature (Democrats hold nearly 90% of the senate seats and over 80% of the house seats) and have had completely uninterrupted control since 1960.
Now, I know that one of the major arguments that people have had is that the state is clearly not opposed to voting for Republicans, after all, ignoring Scott Brown, Republicans have had a lot of success in electing governors to the state. I think that Republican success in the Governor’s mansion belies the fact that pretty much everywhere else, Massachusetts voters really don’t like Republicans. Ignoring the federal and legislative offices, even other statewide offices (excluding Lieutenant Governor, as candidates run on a ticket in Massachusetts and thus the officeholder will be of the same party as the Governor) Democrats control all statewide offices, and have done so since the 1970s (with one exception, former Treasurer Joe Malone, but even then that was over ten years ago). All of this is to say that I think there is a tendency of some Democrats and pundits to very much overstate how open Massachusetts is to electing Republicans.
So all of this leads to a prediction, even though there’s still some time, I’m very confident that the final result will be 57-43 in Markey’s favor (and I could see him doing better based on how Gomez’s campaign has been flailing about).