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Former Kennedy aide does the math for a Coakley win

By Karl Vick
As many Democrats brace for the possibility of Scott Brown taking the U.S. Senate seat long held by Edward M. Kennedy, a former Kennedy campaign aide offers a scenario that leads to a narrow victory for Martha Coakley, the state attorney general who polls showed slipping.

Richard Parker now lectures at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

"Once upon a time," Parker begins, "there was a Senate race in which a telegenic GOP challenger threatened to take Massachusetts' guaranteed-blue 'Kennedy seat' (and was ahead in key polls going into the week before the race).

"A brilliant young Democrat was in the White House, having succeeded George Bush. He'd pushed health care reform as his first big issue, but produced a plan so complex and riven with contradictions, that it failed -- in no small part due to the GOP Congressional strategy of total 'no pasaran' ['they shall not pass'] opposition and the wavering of Blue Dog Democrats.

"If that sounds familiar, it is -- because it was the race here in 1994, when Mitt Romney led Ted Kennedy HIMSELF going into November, and Bill Clinton had produced a health plan that failed in an world of zero bipartisanship.

"Kennedy won, of course."

Parker offers the math for Martha Coakley to pull off the same.

It starts with the numbers for the primaries a month ago: 650,000 Democrats voted, and 160,000 Republicans. Commonwealth Secretary Bill Galvin on Monday estimated that 1.6 to 2.2 million would turn out on Tuesday. For reference, in the November 2008 presidential election, turnout was 3 million.

"My gut -- and early calls -- tell me we're well on the low side of the Galvin estimate because of weather," Parker says, "but we'll make at least 1.2 million easily.

"There are 490,000 registered Republicans in the state. If three-quarters of them turn out -- a big 'if' -- that means Brown needs at least 300,000 independents. Meanwhile, if just the same number of Dem ALONE as showed up in December show up today, Martha wins.

"We'll see. In retail politics, after billions spent on media and contact, it's all turnout, turnout, turnout."

By Karl Vick  |  January 19, 2010; 2:52 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , 44 The Obama Presidency  
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Next: Turnout is high in Massachusetts, and so is uncertainty


CONGRATULATIONS, SENATOR BROWN. Liberals need to learn how to do math. Obama, you are doing a GREAT job as President. Keep up the good work, Obama - Republican's best friend. Meanwhile, the people will VOTE OUT ALL DEMOCRATS 2010.

Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | January 19, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Parker's comments fail to include the independent voters. Since they make up 52% of registered voters in MA, that is a glaring oversight and speaks poorly of Parker's math and possibly his agenda. Even if all Dem voters and all Rep voters vote for Coakley and Brown respectively, Brown would have to get less than 75% of the Ind vote to lose on Tues (absent ACORN shenanigans). Given the anger at the administration, it seems unlikely Mr. Parker's projections will come to pass. And what's with the WaPo's Mr. Vick not picking up on the missing Ind voters?

Posted by: tarkine | January 19, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

The high voter turnout will invariably help Coakley, but the race is too close to call. What will be most entertaining aspect is that, if she does win, all this blame game and finger pointing will quickly evaporate into a "love fest".....of sorts......Either way, this is a real wake up call for the Democratic Party.....

Posted by: SPacific | January 19, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

"There are 490,000 registered Republicans in the state. If three-quarters of them turn out -- a big 'if' -- that means Brown needs at least 300,000 independents. Meanwhile, if just the same number of Dem ALONE as showed up in December show up today, Martha wins"

ummm...I think he might have forgotten the registered dems that will vote for Brown(1) and the fact that part of the turnout in the primary is made up of unenrolled.

Ex hacks turned college professors and math? hahaha

Posted by: MurphinMass | January 19, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

what happens if the people voted against cokeley in the primary don't show up to the it that far fetched that people that voted against her once wouldn't do so again (or just not show up)?

Yeah, that's why this will be close.

Posted by: LZ85 | January 19, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

This aide's assertion that numbers from polls leading up to the election in 1994 favored Romney doesn't seem to pass muster when put before the record. See for yourself:,_1994#Polling

Posted by: rmorriso1 | January 19, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

We are zeroing in on Massachusetts today and studying the supply demand curves of all Massachusetts IP.'s. We are seeing what people are searching for around Brown/Coakley and what people are supplying them for answers. We clearly see Brown as winning this race based on search demand and search "results"
We study search demand/supply trends from around the world to find profitable niches and products and the main problem with predictions and "trends" is that no one looks at the "supply" side to these predictions. A niche, or hot predictions, is not just a demand side issue, but a supply/demand curve. If you predict IPHONE apps will take off, and there are already 100,000 aps, then you aren't going to hit that one. If you see that demand for cell phone radiation shields is going nuts and there are only two suppliers, then you can be pretty sure that it will be a good year for those 2 supplies. The software at studies both the demand (search volume) and supply (think "results" in Google). The Google Phone is generating much more buzz right now then say the Apple Tablet.
Here is a video on what I mean..

Posted by: curtdalton | January 19, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

To nejl: A little over the top? Have you not been paying attention? What else do you call this Limbaugh/O'Reilly/Hannity/Beck/Palin BS that has dominated the scene for the past year besides "over the top?" From day #1, it has been the goal of the GOP to block anything and everything proposed by this President. They could care less how detrimental it is to the Country; they are just determined to see that Obama fails. Look, I understand that the republican party is made up of two basic groups: (a) The very wealthy, and (b)the very stupid. Party (a) continues to get richer thanks to the stupidity and ignorance of party (b). Of course next you're going to throw the "independents" into the mix, but anybody with half a brain knows that most independents are just republicans who are ashamed to admit they're republican. Over the top? Dude, I'm just getting warmed up!

Posted by: Drewster1 | January 19, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

"Marcia" Coakley and Barry the incompetent boob Obama already playing the blame game while the polls are still open. Quote from another WaPo article today:

"The memo, released on election day, suggests that there is little doubt inside the Coakley campaign about the outcome. The basic message: Obama and national Democrats never provided her with the financial and infrastructural aid she needed in late 2009 to ensure
this race never developed into something real.

A Democratic party official shot back in an e-mail; "It's just a bunch of lies," the source said of the Coakley memo."

Posted by: screwjob11 | January 19, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

With such a large advantage for Democrat's, it is highly unlikely that they will break en masse for Brown. I doubt that independents are truly enamored of him, either. So that leaves the GOP base that he can count on.

Later tonight or tomorrow morning Martha Coakley will hold the title, "Senator-elect". No snarky replies or fist pounding tea baggers will change that.

Posted by: michaelh2001 | January 19, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse


a LITTLE over the top, don't you think? fine to disagree, but do you really need to stoop to that level?

Posted by: nejl | January 19, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Great response. The ACORN crap is a waste of everyone's time.

Posted by: ladodger | January 19, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

To Regis09: Would you PLEASE just STFU about ACORN! Look, I know you're a ticked off old male republican that can't get over the fact that you got your arse kicked by a young black guy. But if pulling out the ACORN thing is the only answer you have for everything, just let it lie! You've done it to death, and every time you post something about it, it just proves how ignorant and stupid you really are! And if you want to bring up cheating, let's take a short trip down memory lane to 2000, shall we? If Jeb Bush had not stopped the recount in Florida, his baby brother would have never made it to the WH...and we wouldn't even be having this conversation today. Because the Country wouldn't have been taken to hell in a handbasket by Bush II.

Now, I'm sure you're a gun owner (what dumb redneck isn't?), so do us all a favor: Load it, cock it, put the barrel in your mouth and pull the friggin' trigger! NO ONE will miss you...I promise.

Posted by: Drewster1 | January 19, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

A point that Parker fails to raise in his look at the numbers is that the affiliation of registered voters in Mass today are different than they were in 1994. At present, 51% of the registered voters are unaffiliated, or independents. That is significantly higher than it was in 1994. Poll after poll have shown these voters to be for Brown. In some of the polls, they show Brown garnering a 2 to 1 advantage over Coakley. IF that's the case, Brown can make up Coakley's Dem advantage and overtake her in the polls. That explains why Brown is so competitive despite being a Rep in a Blue state. So it's no use to keep on talking about how Mass Dems outnumber Reps 3 to 1.

In the end, just as Parker stated, it comes down to turn out. Regardless of polls,pundits, and WaPo commentators like those above, it's the voters that get up, and out of their seats that will decide. No sense in people talking as if they know what's going to happen. I find it funny that commentors speak as if they know what's going to happen. If you don't know, don't say it. You may just end up eating your own words later.

Posted by: nejl | January 19, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

More wishful thinking and crystal ball gazing by a Massachusetts egghead.

Attention Harvard Nitwit: There are going to be tens of thousands of Democrats who voted for Scott Brown.

Posted by: screwjob2 | January 19, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Croakley is no Ted Kennedy.

I think Brown would be absolutely awful for our already disgusting Senate antics, but I would bet that the craven obstructionism if Brown wins will keep the Republicans from winning any Democrat seats in 2010.

It's your move Repubs.....if you win this seat will you start attempting to govern or will you sit to the side and throw bricks as we continue to tread water?

Posted by: theobserver4 | January 19, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Let us hope that Coakley loses and that this election is the first in a string of victories for freedom over Leftist politics.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | January 19, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

If Mass voters let the out of state Teabaggers steer their election..unless they really want Beck and Rush to be their voice in the Senate for the next SIX years!

Posted by: wildchatt | January 19, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Yea but that was Ted Kennedy

And he had adequate time to prepare the get out the vote operations.

And Ted Kennedy won the debate that year in 1994.


Posted by: 37thand0street | January 19, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The geniuses over at transcribed this quote:

""Men are not going to vote for Coakley at all. You have a very angry male voter who's repudiating whatever is being said in Washington and they're taking it out on this woman. And independents are clearly going to the Republican in droves. What's left are the Democratic voters," said Towery, who is a former aide to Newt Gingrich."

So let us see what he's saying here -- Men are for Brown. And so are independents. Brown's got the Republican vote tied up of course. So that leaves just the Democratic voters for Coakley.

We've been told everyday for months that Democrats have a three-to-one registration advantage over Republicans.

The only way the speaker of this quote and the 'journalist' at that took down can be said to possess the intelligence God gave a Pop-Tart is if about 80 percent of the Democrats don't vote.

Neither the Gingrichite nor the Politico transcriptionist made that argument. They just said that, well, the guys are for Brown, and so are the Republicans, and so are the independents, ergo, Brown wins -- even though if Brown received 100 PERCENT of the vote of men, independents (which include men) and Republicans (which include men) -- BROWN WILL LOSE.

The only way Brown wins is if an abnormally high number of Democrats vote for Brown -- which no one -- NO ONE -- has said is happening, or an abnormally high number of Massachusetts Democrats have given up calendars for religious reasons and don't know it's Election Day.

The Brown-will-win logic was based at first on wishful thinking that was then 'supported' by some awful polls and then was confirmed by some good pollsters who said -- if anyone would ask them -- that they were uncertain if their polls were really that accurate, given the unusual circumstances of a special election held in January.

The numbers have never added up -- but if you back a Republican, or are fashionably pessimistic about America, or have something awful to say about the current President of the United States of America, or, preferably, all three -- You Get Free Airtime for your Kooky Fact-Free Ideas.

Democrat? Get out of here. Just because a solid majority of American voters in a free and fair election put to you in office after hearing clearly and loudly what you wanted to do, doesn't mean you get to participate in the debate.

Magical thinking rules and gets the airtime, especially if it comes out of the mouth of a Republican.

There aren't enough votes for Brown to win, no matter what the polls 'say.'

Posted by: 1EgoNemo | January 19, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

The math is simple: If Coakley wins, the election's over. If Brown gets more votes, the Dems will use ACORN and the unions to produce the votes necessary to win the recount.

Posted by: Regis09 | January 19, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

What's worrisome here, for sure, is the Democrats' and Senator Kennedy's reputation with mathematics.

Posted by: HassanAliAl-Hadoodi | January 19, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Brown's supporters were making too much noise to be holding real cards. They're still smarting from the presidential election when they got steamrolled by Obama. And apparently the issues in today's Senate election didn't inflame enough voters to turn out big, despite all the media spin. Last estimate I read was 40 percent. Since it's a dead-even election, this means less than twenty percent cared enough about either Brown or Coakley to actually vote. I'd hardly call that a groundswell for any cause. Sterling Greenwood/Aspen Free Press

Posted by: AspenFreePress | January 19, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Dewey defeats Truman

Posted by: harrypilson | January 19, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Republicans and anything in a book. LMAO!! LMAO!!!!

Posted by: walrusk1 | January 19, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

But Dottydo, Republicans don't know how to use math, or they wouldn't keep telling us we can cut taxes but keep all our entitlements, and reduce the deficit without making anyone feel the pain. Just ask Scott Brown. That's Republican math.
That said, the charismatic Teddy was much more likely to pull out a miracle than lackluster Martha. I hope this guy is right.

Posted by: greyK | January 19, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Math and Dermocrats...funny stuff.
Remeber the stimulous numbers where Arizona's 53rd district or some such rot was showing great gains???...they only have 8 districts there.

Democrats and math...ha ha ha.

Posted by: dottydo | January 19, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

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