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January 20, 2010

How could Coakley outspend Brown 5:1 and still lose? (Updated)

This is even more embarrassing than I thought. Democrat Martha Coakley spent more than five times as much as Republican Scott Brown and she still lost the election.

As of December 31, 2009, Coakley had raised a total of $5,236,955, of which she spent $4,294,566. Brown raised  $1,220,077 and spent $852,927. If those trends continued through to election day, Coakley outraised Brown by more than 4:1 and outspent him by 5:1. Yet she still lost by 5 points.

The official records for the last few weeks of the campaign aren't available from the FEC yet. (Update: The Brown campaign claimed a last-minute fundraising surge in January. I've heard estimates of up to $12 million. It's not clear how much money Coakley's campaign raised in January, but she presumably took in several million of her own.)

The FEC figures don't include independent expenditures on behalf of either candidate. We know that Brown got a lot of help from the Tea Party movement that doesn't show up in his campaign finance record. Then again, some choice and labor groups came through with late independent expenditures for Coakley.

Coakley aides groused that the D.C. Democratic establishment failed to step in until it was too late. A Democratic senate race in Massachusetts shouldn't need a lot of hand holding from the national party. Amazingly enough, Coakley's lead dwindled during a month when her opponent held over three times as many campaign events as she did.

Update: According to the Boston Globe, the Brown camp claims to have spent $13 million, nearly all of which came from online donors in the final weeks.  But the same story says that the Coakly camp and its allies allies also launched a multi-million dollar advertising onslaught at the last minute, to little avail. Anyone know how much Coakley raised/spent in January?


One small reason? She is a horrible woman who kept wrongfully convicted people in jail even after exculpatory evidence had been shown to her.

More than a few Democrats and independents grew to know about this and voted against her over this issue.

I think there is an insider story to this...

My hunch, there is a huge split in MA democratic party. Rumor has it, the west MA and Boston crew are in disagreement specially during primary. The boston candidate supposedly can win MA handily, but he lost primary. ... What I want to know, who support Coakley during primary. Is it West Ma. insurgency? Then Boston crew get pouty and decide to sit home during election?

Whatever it is, now congress is truly paralized. And Obama won't get anything done until at least mid term. (by then things probably be worst than now.)

I'd be surprised if she outspent him in the final week. Here in Mass we couldn't go to the bathroom without Scott Brown showing up on the underside of the toilet seat. Dude's face was everywhere. He even showed up on youtube when my toddler and I were watching bulldozer videos.

"Brown skillfully made the election a referendum on the issue [health care], nationalizing the race when he repeatedly said he would be the 41st vote in the Senate, enough for the GOP to block the Democrats’ bill. Money poured in from around the country. His campaign had an initial budget of $1.2 million but eventually spent $13 million, about $12 million of which came in via the Internet, a campaign official said last night."

Coakley is from Middlesex County, which consists of Boston suburbs. In the election, she overperformed relative to trend in Boston and its inner suburbs, and underperformed in Western Massachusetts. If she'd lost as many percentage points of the Obama 2008 vote in the rest of the state as she did in Boston proper, she'd have won by a squeaker.

I want to know where all that money went. As you noted, Coakley was practically invisible for a significant part of the campaign. So what did they spend all that money on? Were the staff using it for t.p.?

phil zombi -

I'd like to know where the money went, too.

How much were her consultants paid?

Voters are mad at incumbents because of 10% unemployment. And they're mad a state governments which are dysfunctional (comparatively speaking) and broke.

I keep asking if anyone knows if the Democratic Party is going to punish Coakley for her incompetence. Presumably, she will never win another primary to run for the US Senate. Will the party unite against her if she tries ti run for re-election?

Hi, Bill.
I'm a Democratic Party Ward Chair in Cambridge, Mass. I live in the ward where Tip O'Neill used to live. Odds are, she's running for re-election. She spoke on WBUR today and was blunt about her campaign failures.
I don't foresee the Party uniting against her.
We didn't unite against John Kerry when he lost to Bush but ran again for Senate. Kerry had a primary opponent who drew significant support, but Kerry still won.

As for what happened... in our recent primary, Rep. Capuano (my guy) went out to meet people around Mass, lost to Coakley, and returned to tell the Dems in Washington this:
"You're [expletive]!"
There's some real rage in this state. Lots of people are out of jobs and they don't see incumbents in a positive light.

President Obama & Reid & Pelosi need to open up the spigot and start creating jobs.

It seems to me, Coakley took her candidacy for granted. She thought she will cruise, and her opponent see an opening.

This look like a fair and square fight in term of street politics. The entire dem establishment better get to work. Because mid term will be even more brutal.

I for one think it is time to replace Reid. He is working hard for the man. Wonder how rawdy the last lobbyist party were.


Thank you for your reply. For what it is worth, I would not have supported an effort against Kerry. I feel he ran a hard campaign, though I also feel he was not a great candidate for President.

Conversely, Coakley ran a terrible campaign. If reports are correct, she vacationed out of the country while Brown was campaigning. In December, she turned down Vicki Kennedy's offer of help, waiting until it was too late to tap her. She famously refused to campaign in the cold. I could go on, but you get the idea. If this were a war, she could be court-martialed and sentenced to death.

you would think for all the times that it hasn't worked somebody in politics might figure out that it's my turn goddammit! is not a good platform.

didn't work for bob dole, didn't work for john mcCain, didn't work for stevenson, and a whole raft of party operatives who stepped up for what they thought was a sure thing.

It is not necessary for a candidate to have a detailed knowledge of baseball personnel (unless running for Commissioner, I suppose.) But to claim that Curt Schilling was a Yankees' fan is ineffably stupid. It says that not only is she not detail-oriented nor disciplined in her speech, but that she is further not in touch with the emotion sensibilities and aspirations (however trifle) of her entire Commonwealth.

For U.S. citizens of about my age (40), it's about the equivalent of claiming that the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team of 1980 were a bunch of Soviet spies.

It's also nothing she couldn't have Googled beforehand.

Wasn't she asked this in real time? I don't think "Wait a second, I'll have to Google to fill in the blanks in my canned answer" would have played well with the voters.

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