Snow doesn't dampen Mass. election fervor
By Karl Vick
BOSTON -- Election Day dawned in Massachusetts with temperatures at freezing and light snow falling across much of the commonwealth. Predictions called for the snow to continue intermittently and mix with rain as temperatures rose, creating what weather forecasters called "a mushy inch or two."
The worse the weather, the larger the question of voter motivation looms over the race for a successor to Ted Kennedy in the United States Senate. Democrats are trying to motivate a base of loyal voters alerted--by sinking polls and the 11th hour visit of President Obama on Sunday--to the possible loss of what was widely regarded a safe seat.
"Every vote matters, every voice matters," Obama says in a new commercial that is part of a massive get-out-the-vote effort for candidate Martha Coakley, the state attorney general. "We need you on Tuesday."
The campaign of Republican candidate Scott Brown, a state senator, is reaching out to voters via traditional phone banks, but also aiming to marshal enthusiasm through the internet and social networking. Brown's Web site highlights a "voter bomb where supporters 'tell Scott Brown how many voters you will personally ensure show up and vote Tuesday.'"
"Don't Vote Alone," reads the page. After the supporter commits to assure a specific number of people will get to the polls, he or she is invited to enter the e-mail addresses of 10 friends.
The race has focused heavily on the national debate over health care; a Brown victory could topple the Senate majority Obama would likely need in order to push legislation to final passage.
The 50 percent of Massachusetts voters who register as independent, or "unenrolled," are the main quarry for Brown's efforts to fill the two years remaining in the unfinished term of Kennedy, who died of brain cancer last year. A Republican campaign official estimated that, because turnout is normally lower in a special election, the Brown campaign will be doing well if independents show up at the polls at levels close to those in a general election.
"There are several places we need to do well," said Ron Kaufman, a longtime Massachusetts Republican political professional. He named "the older cities," including Quincy, Fall River, Bedford, Lowell and Lawrence; suburban communities along the outer beltway of I-495; and the Route 128 hi-tech corridor to the north of Boston.
A Democratic expert, speaking on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss the Coakley campaign's calculations, said the election could likely be decided in the Bay State's "South Coast" towns, such as Fall River and New Bedford.
Those towns are fairly independent from the rest of the state -- Providence is their media market -- and neither candidate has strengths in the region. "If Brown wins down there, it could be a long night for her," the strategist said.
Campaign commercials, mostly negative, continued to rotate without pause on local television Tuesday.
Coakley cast her ballot at an elementary school in Medford, where she lives with her husband, a retired Cambridge police officer whose former union endorsed her opponent. Her schedule called for campaign stops Tuesday in Boston, New Bedford, Fall River, Springfield, and Worcester.
"We're working on the ground game," she told reporters.
More than 80 percent of Massachusetts residents live in its eastern half of the state--in the Boston metropolitan area and the communities to the north and south.
Brown was due to vote near his home in Wrentham. He wound up Monday's campaigning with a raucous rally urging supporters to "send a message to Washington that business as usual is not how we like to do business, period."
Staff writer Paul Kane contributed to this report.
January 19, 2010; 9:40 AM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Barack Obama , Battlegrounds , Capitol Briefing , Election Day , Health Care , Issues , Northeast / Mid-Atlantic
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