Monday, January 18, 2010

Election Eve Analysis

I have been going door to door in my immediate neighborhood canvassing for Coakley.

After campaigning for Capuano in the primaries I dropped back to get my life back together, and then left town and fell out of contact for a week. When I returned I found three emails from one (fairly progressive) democratic activist and one from MoveOn.org about the campaign - when the Internet should have been abuzz with traffic about it. I am told that she made no outreach to the Capuano and Khazei campaigns to include them and their supporters, who have responded by sitting on their hands. For the last week however everyone has been in panic mode.

The Brown Campaign with the help of the media has been moving to turn this election into a referendum on Obama, Gov. Patrick, the Democratic Party - and most especially on the health care bill. When I warned that the Democrats would pay dearly for allowing and supporting this bill I knew I was right but didn't imagine that it would come home to roost so soon! This issue is getting a lot of traction from working people, young professionals and from some activists who should know better.

I came across clusters of young working-class men who are just plain angry and full of blame and want someone to pay; men who think they're voting for Joe Camel - who probably more closely resembles the public Scott Brown than does the one his wife knows. It's all about image and anger - and a deep substrate of racism - but the individual mandate in the health care bill is their Exhibit A for why the Democrats need to be taught a lesson.

Another concern is vote fraud. Our much-vaunted scanned card system is hackable, and nearly all of the votes are counted on Diebold or LHS Associates equipment. The latter group has been described as thuggish and devious, and openly engages in practices that could easily be turned to fraud. Most importantly, we are not dealing with the Massachusetts Republican Party now, we're dealing with the right wing of the National Republican Party, which has been pouring money and volunteers into the state and for whom fraud is a standard MO. Rules for hand counts of the ballots are sufficiently restrictive so that it is possible that even a suspicious losing candidate might not succeed in catching it. Luckily, Coakley is concerned enough to have called in a team of experts in from Florida to monitor the election.

It has been a while since there has been documented or suspected fraud here in Massachusetts, and Democratic activists whom I've spoken to have dismissed the possibility out of hand - which makes them all the more vulnerable.

My guess is that Coakley will carry my neighborhood, and perhaps Worcester. The pundits think she will win statewide despite the poll numbers. My gut is telling me something different. My gut sense is that too many people are fed up with the Democrats, and Brown will win, with or without fraud. Even if Coakley wins though, it will be a squeaker, which it shouldn't have been by all conventional calculations. There should be some interesting and frank discussions at the campaign get-together Tuesday night.

The Democratic Party is in crisis in Massachusetts, and from what I can see is unable to adapt. The people and the activist base are fed up with the corporatist and high-handed Deval Patrick Administration and it is headed for defeat by the Republicans this November, unless the activist base can put up a candidate that can beat him in the primaries in September. Time for this however is running out. In the meantime the insiders are playing their games in full confidence that they can control the outcomes within the Party, and with utter lack of concern for whether that is dooming the Party's chances in the general election.

In general the people here are losing what's left of their belief that the political system is capable of responding to their needs and opinions. This is not good - they don't have genuine leaders that they trust, and their ranks are riddled with tea-baggers who will take directions from Fox. When the next shock hits, anything can happen.
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