How Brown Won

Much of the chatter about the Massachusetts Senate campaign has focused on how Democrat Martha Coakley lost the race. The Phoenix's David Bernstein takes a look at how Brown won. And he argues, in part, that Brown replayed Barack Obama's strategy in the Iowa caucuses that jumpstarted his campaign:

As that campaign's manager David Plouffe describes in The Audacity To Win, Obama's strategists knew from the start that they could not beat Hillary Clinton among the people who normally participate in caucuses. Thus, they had to expand the playing field — greatly increase the number (and type) of participants, so that the people who don't normally vote would overwhelm the regulars.

Brown faced the same dilemma. It was widely accepted that turnout for the special election would be no more than 30 percent, or 1.2 million people — and that number would include more than 600,000 who had already voted in the Democratic primary. The math isn't difficult.

If you like poker analogies, Coakley had a winning five-card hand, so Brown decided to make it a seven-card game.

He did this (not entirely unlike Obama) by appealing broadly to those who are disaffected, discouraged, and just generally annoyed with government and politics. Those people don't typically vote, and certainly not in a special election. But Brown made them feel that they were a part of something that would strike a dagger at complacent, arrogant, corrupt politicians, and it turned out that people were ready to join that cause. In the end, more than a million people voted for Brown; more than enough to flood the Democratic base.

The full piece is definitely worth a read.

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