With her almost daily gaffes, from bristling at going out in the cold to opposing Catholics working in emergency rooms, Martha Coakley seems like the political candidate with two left feet. Michelle has called her campaign “listless, hapless“. She famously took a vacation over the holidays even as they fell less than a month before the election.
Now, some might say that Scott Brown wouldn’t be doing as well against a candidate who was better prepared. And they might be right. But, given the national mood, a more aggressive and energetic Democratic candidate may have alerted those upset with the things going on in Washington and on Beacon Hill to the upcoming election. Hence, Coakley’s strategy was sensible, given the state’s demographics and the power of its Democratic machine (and special interest allies) to generate turnout on Election Day. Unfortunately (for the Democrats), Brown’s textbook campaign roused those upset with the status quo and eager for change in our nation’s capital.
(Memo to GOP: on January 20, no matter what the result, get someone to do write-up on this campaign, have Brown campaign staffers brief top officials from RNC, NRSC, NRCC and pass this information on to people in states with lackluster GOP operations.)
One should think twice before calling Coakley a bad politician. She won big in the Democratic primary, capturing 47 percent of the vote in a four-way race, “easily outdistancing her closest competitor, Rep. Michael Capuano, who finished with 28 percent.” A novice politician doesn’t do that. It’s just she needed a different skill set in a competitive race with a Republican in an environment with people clamoring for change.
And that, I believe, explains all her gaffes on the trail this past wee. Coakley has spent so much time working her way up in Democratic circles that she just doesn’t know how to face a challenge from a Republican. She thought the battle was over in December when she won her party’s primary. And she, like the media, considered next Tuesday’s election a mere formality.