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Chatting on the Massachusetts Senate race

We spent an hour fielding questions on the Massachusetts Senate race -- among other topics -- in our weekly "Live Fix" chat earlier today.

The race has gone into hyper-drive with state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) stumping with former President Bill Clinton today even as state Sen. Scott Brown (R) campaigned alongside former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Both sides acknowledge the race is extremely close and how the candidates perform over the long weekend could make the difference.

Here are a few of our favorite questions (and answers) on the state of play in Massachusetts from today's "Live Fix" chat:

Arlington, Mass.: Hi Chris, love your column. This is more a comment, than a question. Coming from Massachusetts and a Democrat, I think any other Democrat candidate would have had the Senate seat wrapped up by the holidays. Coakley isn't an effective candidate; she comes across stiff and hasn't really spoken to citizens. Whereas Brown is showing at desire for the seat. So to read about these polls, I don't think it's an accurate statement saying that Massachusetts isn't happy with the Democrats. I think the race has more to do with the candidates, than the country as a whole.

Chris Cillizza: No question that Coakley is a less-than-inspiring candidate who has run a less-than-inspiring campaign.

That said, I don't think the fact that she is not a particularly good candidate is the sole reason for her vulnerability heading into Tuesday.

The fact is that across the country -- even in a Democratic stronghold like Massachusetts -- there is a real anger towards the status quo and politicians (of either party) who aim to preserve it.

That environment has helped frame this race. Coakley has down herself no favors, however, by allowing Brown to seize the "change" mantle and label her as part of the problem.

Anonymous: What is the reputation in your business of Suffolk University/News 7 polls?

Related Q: There is a poll taken yesterday by people in Alexandria called Cross Target showing Brown at 53.9%,Coakley at 38.5%, undecided 7.5%. Never heard of Cross Target. Know anything about them?

Chris Cillizza: I don't know anything specific about the Suffolk poll other than that it is a live caller survey as opposed to a robo poll like the Cross Target survey.

The polling community generally believes live caller polling to be the more reliable and even the most gung ho Republicans I know don't think Brown is winning by 15 points.

Remember this when trying to analyze polling in a race: No one poll should be taken as the "right" one. Polling is part science and part art, so the best way to figure out the direction of the race is to take all the available data and average it out. That will probably get you close to the right answer.

Cambridge, MA: I still think Coakley wins this race by 8+ points and the story is marginalized post-election. The voter ID for Dems is just too large and this national attention has woken up MA residents.

HOWEVER, I think this really spells trouble for Governor Deval Patrick's future. Republicans have figured out how to campaign here in MA and they have a couple quality candidates to choose from in the upcoming primary. Patrick should be worried, right?

Chris Cillizza: Great minds!

I am not sure I agree on Coakley -- solely because the race has been so unpredictable to this point -- but I think that no matter what happens on Tuesday you have a clear winner and a clear loser already.

Winner: Scott Brown. His candidacy has shocked the political world so even if he comes up short he will be touted for any and all open office in the state. One potential option: Coakley's attorney general post.

Loser: Deval Patrick. The ONE thing that Democrats thought could save Patrick in 2010 was the strong Democratic lean of the state. This special election has proven that, at least right now, partisanship matters less than the climate of anger/unsettledness in the state. Really bad news for Patrick.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 15, 2010; 4:09 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Notes , Senate  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama to stump for Coakley
Next: The Fix, the "Newshour" and the Massachusetts Senate race


To Cambridge, MA: "I still think Coakley wins this race by 8+ points and the story is marginalized post-election."
Well, that would be true if you only count the vote in Cambridge.
Kevin Cullen wrote on Globe that he counted a grand total of TWO Coakley signs along Blue Hill Ave., the heart of the black community in Boston. Talk about enthusiasm.
BTW, Cambridge Police Union, of which Coakley's husband is a member, endorsed Brown last week. Guess they "acted stupidly" again this time?

Posted by: hippo_giant | January 19, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

hi All! I really hope that Scott Brown wins the election tomorrow. Martha Coakley seems totally out of touch with the real people of Massachusetts. For example. Martha did not even seem to know that Curt Shilling was a member of the Boston Red Sox team. She stated that "Curt Shilling was a Yankee fan." Also, Martha made some arrogant comments about how Catholics who do not believe in prescribing the morning after pill which induces abortion, should not be allowed to work in emergency rooms. I am a pro-life student doctor who is a Catholic and it is against my religious belief to prescribe any kind of contraceptive or any kind of pill that worud induce an abortion. So I guess Martha feels that people like me should not be allowed to work as doctors in emergency rooms then! How insulting. Has Martha Coakeley not heard that we all have religious freedom still in America? We are not a communist or socialist Marxist country!!!!Also, it seems like this health care bill that is going to cost trillions of dollars( so much money) for Americans and will probably end up bankrupting America, is being jammed down the throats of Americans at lightning speed. This health care bill is huge and it seems that most of the Senators who voted yes for this bill have not even read it yet. Why can't we take the necessary time to come up with a good health care bill plan that won't bankrupt our country? Why is this bill being pushed on all of us without the proper time to think about whether or not we realy want this health care bill? VOTE for Scott Brown!!!!! He will save America from Bankruptcy by stalling for more time to get a cheaper health care bill!!!! Thank you.

Posted by: ainemitchell | January 18, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

I still think Coakley wins this race by 8+ points and the story is marginalized post-election. The voter ID for Dems is just too large and this national attention has woken up MA residents.

HOWEVER, I think this really spells trouble for Governor Deval Patrick's future. Republicans have figured out how to campaign here in MA and they have a couple quality candidates to choose from in the upcoming primary. Patrick should be worried, right?

Agreed on post-election story being marginalized, that is, unless Brown wins. Then it will be all over the place. But what have Republicans figured out in Massachusetts? Their last "pretty" to stoke populace angst helped lose an important election. I refer to Sarah Palin of course.

Moreover, Brown is opposing a loyal servant of the state and a competent attorney general by many accounts. So I expect Coakley to win, perhaps handily. Naysayers be damned.

Not you, CC.

Posted by: Kelly14 | January 17, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats took the darn seat for granted. I live on the other side of the Country and I did too. Show me one informed Democrat who was not involved in this who did not take this for granted. Now, the whole Obama program is probably at stake. First of all there is health care of which all of us are sick of by now. (It's high time this thing gets done, what in hell is the holdup. Get your frigging ego's out of the way and do it)Next is more economics, jobs and more jobs and the environment. With the Republicans bound and determined to see this President fail, the Democrats in Mass should have been more careful and better prepared for setbacks. I still think that Brown will lose but this could be too close for comfort.

Posted by: Opa2 | January 16, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

As of today, 101,000 absentee ballots have been requested in Massachusetts - doesn't look like a low turn-out election.


Posted by: 37thand0street | January 15, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing how few of the liberals want to say good things about Coakley. She has few defenders, even here.


Posted by: 37thand0street | January 15, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

I actually think Chris has underestimated the candidate effect here. The Democratic primary electorate is at fault here, as in the Virginia Gubernatorial primary last year, they selected as nominee the weakest possible candidate. They could have nominated a real passionate experienced legislator in Capuano, or a truly progressive outsider in Khazei, and instead elected a woman who is a terrible campaigner. One just has to wonder, how in the world did Coakley ever get elected to Attorney General in the first place? She is an awful candidate.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | January 15, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

The polls in Massachusetts indicate that the independents are coming out to vote practically unheard of in a special election.

The demographics are coming clearer.

Obama has only himself to blame for this - he has been a FRAUD to all his campaign themes - he had BETRAYED THE AMERCIAN PEOPLE WITH HIS COMPLETE LACK OF BIPARTISANSHIP.


Posted by: 37thand0street | January 15, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse


The Dems are threatening to use "reconciliation" again re: Obamacare.

Posted by: JakeD | January 15, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

All we are don't give the neocom statist a chance..

Posted by: leapin | January 15, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

No, 37thand0street, that's above his pay grade ; )

Posted by: JakeD | January 15, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Does Obama have a position on Catholics working in emergency rooms????

I am not sure.

It just seems that as soon as Coakley made clear that she thought Catholics should not work in emergency rooms, Obama decided to go up to her aid.


With so much health care on Obama's agenda, I think not.........


Posted by: 37thand0street | January 15, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

After watching Bush hibernate for his last 2 years and disappear from leadership, I backed President Obama. And while he still has an opportunity to be successful, his first year could have been better. The President was obviously inexperienced and it showed. His staff certainly hasn't done him many favors. But the last month has not been encouraging. I cannot accept corrupt practices or bribery from any party. I am afraid Brown is riding the growing discontent and maybe the balance in Congress is needed.

Posted by: donchew1 | January 15, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse


For the LAST TIME, I never "joked" about Obama's assassination!

Posted by: JakeD | January 15, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

The moderated chat contains interesting on-topic discussion, while the unmoderated blog is a morass of repetitive trolls. That might be worth nothing, CC.

Posted by: Blarg | January 15, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

"Why are the chatters so much more coherent and intelligent than the commenters?

Posted by: Blarg"

Because the chat

You think any Obama assassination jokes are making it through the producer?

Posted by: DDAWD | January 15, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse


RE: President Obama live TV address (Fri. 1.15.10, 1:12 p.m. )

I am genuinely distressed at the outbreak of new moles on POTUS' cheeks -- not just on the left side, which has exhibited many new moles since the 2008 campaign, but now on the right side of his face.

The number of new moles on his face is truly shocking. Now, I know he was in Hawaii, and it would be easy to write off the onset of these moles as the result of sun exposure. I don't think so. Sunlight is much more diffuse.

White House staff/aides: Please alert POTUS, VPOTUS, John Brennan and Dennis Blair and Jim Jones. Please ask them to consult with the White House physician about the possibility that these moles have resulted from external, silent, invisible microwave assault.

From "comments" section, OR

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 15, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Blarg, you are a funny guy.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 15, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Why are the chatters so much more coherent and intelligent than the commenters?

Posted by: Blarg | January 15, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I agree the winner is Scott Brown!!!

Posted by: JakeD | January 15, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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