Back when I went to college in far leftist, er, western, fringes of the Bay State, I had occasion to talk to many a native about the state’s senior Senator. It took me a while to understand his appeal, much of it having to do with his name. But, that wasn’t all. Ted Kennedy had, by all accounts a crackerjack constituent service operations and a staff considered the smartest on the “left side” of the Hill. Plus, despite his upbringing, he had the ability to relate to the urban ethnic voters in his jurisdiction. And he loved Fenway Park and the Red Sox.
Once when taking a cab from the bus station to Logan Airport, I asked the driver what he thought about his state’s senator, “Well,” this middle-aged man began, “he’s John’s brother.” He hesitated before praising the man dubbed the “black sheep” of his family, but ended up saying that while he lacked his older brother’s charisma, he did look out for the state. The Kennedy name will always have a certain magic in Massachusetts, particularly among the older Irish voters who know what it’s like to be excluded from the political mainstream. I think that’s one reason Martha Coakley has been polling about even with older voters (while running behind Brown among younger voters), a constituency which nationwide is moving away from her party, largely based on opposition to the health care overhaul.
So,it does seems the endorsement of the Kennedy family will help Martha Coakley in tomorrow’s election. Will then some of the currently wavering voters decide in the voting booth to vote for her to honor that celebrated family? Perhaps. And enough may do that to make up for the recent swing in the polls away from the Democratic nominee.
But, that’s not the only Kennedy factor at play in tomorrow’s race. A third party candidate on the ballot has almost the same name as the Kennedy family patriarch, though this Joe Kennedy calls himself the Tea Party candidate. Given his affiliation with the anti-big government tea parties, this affiliation would normally help the Democrats by taking away votes from the GOP whose candidate is running against the Democrats’ big government initiatives.
But, some older voters, seeing the name Kennedy may vote for this libertarian guy for sentimental sake. According to the New York Times, Bay State Democrats have voiced this concern, fearing “that some uninformed voters might confuse him for a member of the better-known, well-loved Kennedy clan, which he is not.”
On the end, he’ll probably draw votes from both sides, though I would daresay that some people currently intending to vote for him on the tax, spend and health care issue, may change their mind at the last minute and vote for Brown realizing that he could actually pull this off.