Friday, November 27, 2009

Lawn-Sign Gap

Ah, the risks of relying on empirical knowledge. In my tiny world, Mike Capuano owns this Dem primary to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Allegedly — according to small polls conducted by the likes of the Boston Globe and candidate Martha Coakley's campaign — the gate-bolting early leader retains a strong plurality. Yet in my apparently isolated world, Mike is king.

After numerous attempts to figure out what she is really about by reading the news, raking her campaign site, sitting through those debate-like objects with my clipboard and pen, and trying to get her as a guest on our Left Ahead! podcast, I finally gave up. In contrast, Capuano's people came to me. They invited me to blogger round tables, he came on our podcast, his folk had me to the big Open Mike rally at the Park Plaza, and they gave me a yard sign. Back to Martha, her campaign appears to have two components:
  1. Announce early to get the edge in contributions and endorsements
  2. Don't take any risks by unnecessary public exposure or meaningful debate
If I've gotten any indication of how the candidates might handle constituent services from all this, Martha will be behind a high wall.

The polls would suggest Martha's avoidance is working in a very foreshortened race. It only has to hold through December 8th. The Dem nominee is then a virtually certainty to roll over the virtually certain Republican nominee state Sen. Scott Brown.

So with just a little over a week to the primary and lots of media coverage, I have been steeling myself for the Martha signs and literature. My new neighborhood was awash with signs, mailbox stuffing, doorbell ringing, standouts and more for the September and November votes. Hyde Park may not be Jamaica Plain in political activism, but it didn't seem too far behind.

Instead, Mike owns Fairmount Hill and seemingly the whole area. I put his sign up and was the first to do so, but by far not the last. Huge and wee, the signs are everywhere. More to the point, there are fewer than one Coakley equivalent.

Yesterday, I finally saw a law sign for Martha. I went on a 35-mile bike ride to cover my Thanksgiving excesses to come. After pedaling by numerous Capuano signs, on the way home, I did encounter one Coakley one in Dedham. I have yet to see one in Boston.

In the same vein, I posted a call to the bloggers and other readers at Blue Mass Group, calling for their endorsements in the race. While I revealed mine after the call, I included a poll about whom they endorse. In this very unscientific finding, at last count one minute ago, it was running:
  • Capuano - 46 votes (63.89%)
  • Coakley - 16 votes (22.22%)
  • Khazei - 7 votes (9.72%)
  • Brown - 2 votes (2.78%)
  • Robinson - 1 votes (1.39%)
  • Pagliuca - 0 votes (0%)
The comments and revealed endorsements were strongly pro-Capuano.

From these two maybe non-definitive indications, I have to wonder:
  • Are BMG's readers and my neighborhood's residents so left-wing they are outliers in this election?
  • Is Coakley's support so soft that it rests in name recognition and will not translate into votes?
  • Is her support out in the burbs?
  • In a likely very low turnout election, who'll be able to get supporters to trot to the polling places?
  • Do these tiny indications suggest that his supporters are real and hers not?
I had really hoped to chat with Coakley and see if she had any substance. She blew me off as she did so many other chances elsewhere to make her case. She apparently figures that minimal exposure is her safest route to the Senate. Yet, we already have a cautious Senator in John Kerry. He has been the counterpoint to the courageous Ted Kennedy. I don't think we need a pair of those.

My endorsement of Capuano nootes that he doesn't say we should just trust him to turn into a dynamic and visionary legislature, as Coakley asks of us. He already has shown those traits for 11 years. It is risky for us all but will be fascinating to see on December 8th how many voters will be willing to take a flier on her instead of going with a sure thing.

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1 comment:

euonymous said...

Thank you for posting the link to the video of Mike Dukakis endorsing Mike Capuano. That was beautiful and very funny.

I agree with you that the "polls" are all over the place and yet Mike Capuano seems to have terrific endorsements and a huge amount of support. Let's hope he wins. He is undoubtedly the best bet we've got for someone who can be immediately effective in the Senate.

Mind you, I adore Martha Coakley, but this is not the right job for her. She's a prosecutor, for heaven's sake. It's what she's always done and she's done it very very well. She's dedicated, honest, serious about her work, and appears to be a wonderful human being. But her behavior in this primary has disappointed me greatly. I campaigned to get her the AG job, which she is so willing to abandon. She seems to be more interested in fundraising than in meeting with people. Mike has been a tireless campaigner, Martha not so much.