There are lots of theories floating around for the reason for Baker’s defeat. None of them square with the fact that the GOP did well everywhere else including other states in New England. So let’s apply Occam’s Razor. The reason Baker lost is simple-he screwed it up. Or more specifically, since the campaign manager is supposed to handle advertising, image making etc, Tim O’Brien screwed it up.
A pollster from the Rasmussen organization was on Tom and Todd this morning. He identified two turning points in the campaign. Both had Mr. O’Brien’s fingerprints on them.
The first turning point was when the RGA launched its negative ad campaign against Cahill. The problem was that these ads were run before Baker had established his public persona. This made it difficult for Baker to connect with women (who he lost by 15 points). If Baker would have run image ads for people to get to know him, shown his soft side, women wouldnj’t have been so turned off. Baker couldn’t get traction with women later in the campaign because they perceived him as too sharp edged and strident.
The second was the press conference with Loscocco the morning after Loscocco bolted from the Cahill campaign. It looked to be too cute by far. It was not even remotely believable that there was no contact between the Baker camp and Loscocco prior to Loscocco bolting (as the Baker camp claimed). The Rasmussen pollster said that Baker was trending upward until that time. Afterwards, Baker gained no ground.
Mr. O’Brien’s stock and trade is the campaign aimed at breaking or humiliating your opponent. These two events were clearly his handiwork.
Mr. O’Brien has now achieved a trifecta in Massachusetts politics.
1. He masterminded the 2004 legislative debacle where Mr. Romney spent $2-3 million of his own money and still lost seats.
2. In 2006, he transformed a very pleasant and likable sitting Lt. Governor into one of the least popular political figures in Massachusetts and spent a good chunk of her personal wealth in the process.
3. Now he’s managed to lose to a Governor that a majority of voters felt should not be elected in the year with the largest Republican wave since 1920.
We’ve all heard of a Manchurian candidate. Is Mr. O’Brien the Manchurian campaign manager?