On January 5, 2010, a Rasmussen Reports poll that showed Martha Coakley with 'only' a 9 point lead was a most unwelcome New Year's present to Democratic leaders. Well, to Democratic leaders in Washington that is, who, after a year of work on creating a horribly unworkable health care reform package that pleased no one but the health care industry, were facing the defeat of the bill by losing the precious 60th vote.
Inside the Beltway, the cry went up among the Democratic leadership that a Coakley loss would be devastating to the President's agenda and everything must be done to defend Teddy's seat and keep it nice and safe and Blue.
The reaction in Massachusetts, however, was not as quite as extreme. Martha Coakley seemed like a very disinterested candidate and not an especially strong one, but with a D in front of her name her name, she was going to be elected and there wasn't really a lot of concern.
In fact, it was with some sense of bewilderment that the world turned its attention to Massachusetts and suddenly, we became the hotbed of political activity. Major groups, primarily Democratic, turned their financial guns on the state. Major players started to send people to Massachusetts.
And a funny thing happened.
The more attention that was paid Massachusetts, the more attention that Washington 'leaders' put on the state, the more the DC groups sent increasingly desperate emails and robocalls started to flood the phones. The worse Martha Coakley's numbers got.
In week after Rasmussen released its first report, Coakley's nine point lead shrunk to a single point.
Washington Dems started to pour dollars down the throats of Massachusetts voters. Hoping to stem the bleeding with truly terrible television and radio spots.
By the time Daily Kos did its own poll, and surely, this would be good news for Coakley, the poll was taken from the 15-17th, the race was tied. About at this moment, Martha Coakley's campaign made the truly brilliant decision that the most important thing she could do was fly to DC and have a fundraiser with the health care industry lobbyists.
You couldn't really do anything dumber. Really.
Because even people who don't really follow politics got this one. If health care reform was going to hurt the health care industry, why would the health care industry do a major fundraiser for the woman who was going to make sure that the reform would happen? Shouldn't they have been supporting Scott Brown?
Here in Massachusetts, I bet that the fundraiser and her comments about Scott Brown actually being outside and shaking hands with real voters were the two things that really irritated people.
DC Dems raised the threat level to code red and claimed that now, this was serious. The robocalls came fast and furious. Martha Coakley's campaign released TV spots talking about how she fought Wall Street excesses. There was only one problem: No one here could ever remember her ever fighting anything. And this just reminded people that the Democrats in Washington had actually done a really nice job of enabling Wall Street excesses.
It was time for the geniuses of Washington to act. They pulled out all the stops.
Democratic Party committees, who spent about $4.3 million, mostly on advertising and all of it in the last week, to prop up her wilting candidacy. Their GOP counterparts did not pay for any ads to help Brown. Outside interest groups also played a major role, with seven organizations spending nearly $2.7 million to help Brown, and five others spending more than $1.8 million on Coakley's behalf.
At this point in our story, I would encourage you to look at a map of Massachusetts. We are not the biggest state. We have one city that is much smaller than many state's major cities. The spend by Democratic Party committees of over $4 million in one week is just an enormous amount of money.
For context, annualize that number and you are talking about spending $200,000,000 a year on television advertising on a population of just under 7 million.
Now, we all know how the story turned out. She lost by 5 points.
So where's the accountability here?
It's the same DC consultants running the same crappy ads and running them on the same tv stations they always do, pocketing their media fees all the way to the defeat.
And it shows you that the anti-DC rage, not anti-Democratic, nor anti-Republican, is a very real issue for political races in 2010.
When Martha Coakley become the candidate of DC, the people of Massachusetts said no thanks.
The record shows:
The more DC became involved, the more they spent, the more they yelled and screamed, the worse her numbers got. DC came to the rescue, all right, it's just that they saved Scott Brown from defeat.
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