Why Scott Brown Failed To Get Re-Elected

Although a final count has yet to be made, Democrat Elizabeth Warren last night ousted Massachusetts Republican US Senator Scott Brown. Scott’s re-election was his to lose & he proceeded to do just that.

Was it inevitable? It didn’t have to be. But the reasons for Brown’s failure to hold onto “the people’s seat” aren’t complex & sadly reflect a lack of vision that tragically afflicts both the man himself & his political party.

When Brown won his seat in a special election following the death of legendary Democrat Ted Kennedy, he had a golden opportunity to create a new image for the Massachusetts Republican Party that reflected an alternative strain of the Bay State’s culture. It could be a party that represented the culture of New England – not the culture of the American South, or the Midwest, or even the West Coast. His initial success was due, in part, to his ability to win over independent & Old Left voters. All he had to do was boldly articulate a practical ideology consistent with the values/culture of Massachusetts that would transform the Bay State & (if successful) a blueprint for reuniting the American nation. Such an approach would revitalize the state GOP & make him a rising star on the national scene.

Instead Brown squandered the opportunity. He cultivated an image as a moderate that made no ideological sense once you studied his voting patterns on certain social or economic issues. The lack of continuity generated an impression of opportunism. After awhile he came across as somebody who tacitly accepted the Democrat paradigm since he refused to question its foundational assumptions. Indeed, his “bipartisan” or “moderate” approach more often than not validated the worldview of the Democrat Party. Is it no wonder that when presented with the “real” thing in the person of Warren that voters chose the “authentic” voice of the Democrat paradigm over the pretender Brown?

Brown campaigned that he “was one of us” without bothering to articulate how he would leverage his membership in this “us” group into being a successful national/international leader. He thus came across as too small for the office once held by the great men of Massachusetts’ past political history. He was too small to even bother having a prominent role at his party’s national convention (in sharp contrast to Warren who used her appearance at her party’s convention to bolster her brand as a rising progressive star). Massachusetts voters are proud to be at the vanguard of changing the country (& the world). They expect their leaders to carry out their role as thought leaders & change agents. Brown never aspired to anything beyond being a nice guy who is willing to compromise for the good of all.

Did that attitude get him re-elected? The question answers itself. And the emphasis of Brown’s campaign to hammer away at Warrens inconsistencies at the expense of the good guy image he cultivated – to go “negative” – reflected a desperation stemming from the realization that Brown had nothing to offer the public beyond his personal charisma. To paraphrase Osama Bin Laden, he wasn’t a strong enough horse in the eyes of the voters. There was no “there” there.

And in that regard, Brown perfectly reflected – if not personified – the consistent shortcomings of his party. The Massachusetts Republican Party remains visionless, bitterly disorganized, & not up to the task of governing millions of people who will support anyone & any party – no matter how corrupt – as long as said individuals & the party to which they belong continue to deliver a practical ideology that offers most of them some tangible benefit to their lives.

About The Angelic One


  1. Being bipartisan is just a means to an end, not an end in itself. Senator Brown failed to explain what his positioning could accomplish that a partisan could not. He thought that being moderate was an end in itself, where the great compromises that would save America would magically appear, and he would vote for them, whatever they were.  

  2. I agree generally with your comments. But when the top of the ticket performs so poorly it is hard to overcome. Had Brown only needed 5-7% to split their ticket he may have been able to pull it off. This race was similar to Weld’s in 1996. That said Republicans have to stop fearing being called Republican and conservative. They will be called that anyway, they need to explain why their positions are preferable.

  3. I was looking at the numbers this morning and it seems that the ‘large’ cities that overwhelmingly voted for Brown made all the difference.  Brown lost Boston by 119k votes, Cambridge by 33k votes, Springfield by 25k votes and on it goes.  Either Brown neglected to campaign in the major metro areas or the democrat machine is so well entrenched that it can’t be beaten at this point.

    I tend to think it is the latter – the powerful democrat machine.  I say that because John Tierney, who never led in the polls, pulled out a win.  I think it happened because he had a machine that can generate votes with a phone call….

    This is what the Republicans need to create – a ground game and a machine….

    Democrats are good at building the machinery of elections.  We need to get better at it…

  4. talking about being independent, rather than focusing on issues that matter to people.  It came across like his bipartisan voting record was just based on political calculation.  You don’t get that sense with Republican moderates who get reelected.

  5. you get right down to it….this is still Massachusetts and that was no special election.

  6. I was the only Brown volunteer in two towns totalling over 60,000 people, and I was splitting my time with the Tisei campaign.

    When I e-mailed 60+ members of the two RTC’s including the one I belong to (and I know all of these people) asking them to stand out at the polls. I got 5 replies.

    Maybe the Brown campaign, instead of putting up thousands of commercials (of limited effect in my opinion) could have used some of that money to hire a ground organization, seeing as how most Republicans aren’t all that interested in doing any volunteering.

    Just want to report that I did my bit and both Brown and Tisei won handily. A little help though and maybe Tisei could have gotten another 500 votes, and with more effort elsewhere he’d be over the top.

  7. The Shawmut Group certainly was not very imaginative for either Scott or Mitt. Peter Flaherty, Beth Myers and Eric Fehrnstrom were in way over their heads, but they were very proactive in augmenting their group’s bottom line. Epic Fail!

  8. Unfortunately I saw Joe Malone on ch. 25 this morning. This bankrupt was lashing out at talk radio, conservatives and attributing Romney and Brown losses to everything conservative. This guy epitomizes everything that is wrong with the MA GOP.  

  9. Mark Levin passionately defends conservatism and analyzes last night’s election in the opening monologue of the Wednesday broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program. Here’s a partial transcript of Levin’s opening remarks:

    MARK LEVIN: We conservatives, we do not accept bipartisanship in the pursuit of tyranny. Period. We will not negotiate the terms of our economic and political servitude. Period. We will not abandon our child to a dark and bleak future. We will not accept a fate that is alien to the legacy we inherited from every single future generation in this country. We will not accept social engineering by politicians and bureaucrats who treat us like lab rats, rather than self-sufficient human beings. There are those in this country who choose tyranny over liberty. They do not speak for us, 57 million of us who voted against this yesterday, and they do not get to dictate to us under our Constitution.

    We are the alternative. We will resist. We’re not going to surrender to this. We will not be passive, we will not be compliant in our demise. We’re not good losers, you better believe we’re sore losers! A good loser is a loser forever. Now I hear we’re called ‘purists.’ Conservatives are called purists. The very people who keep nominating moderates, now call us purists the way the left calls us purists. Yeah, things like liberty, and property rights, individual sovereignty, and the Constitution, and capitalism. We’re purists now. And we have to hear this crap from conservatives, or pseudo-conservatives, Republicans.


  10. That’s wrong.  The race was Warren’t lose, and she didn’t.  Brown’s was an uphill battle the whole way.  Here’s why:

    The Globe describes Menino’s machine, which “hummed for Warren.”

    Consider this, about one-half of Warren’s vote pickup over Brown’s compared to the 2010 senate race was in these 6 cities:






    New Bedford-9,356

    That is, of the victory difference, half the difference came from those 6 cities.  Now look at the machinery driving the vote.

    From the Globe article, it says, Ryan FitzGerald was working to take people to the polls.  No coincidence, Ryan FitzGerald was a city employee who took a “vacation day” to get out the Warren vote. Pictured in the article, is Anthony  Albano, a school employee. Further into the article, Leslie Stafford, of SEIU. And on and on….the obvious conclusion: the machine is made of payroll patriots or union members.

    Same in Springfield: Richard Neil pulled together his payroll patriots for the “volunteer” army.  I don’t know for sure, but probably the same is true throughout the state.

    How could Brown have possibly beaten that?!  Democrats had 52 field offices; Republicans had something like 10. With the number of registered Democrat (1,559,000) and reasonable turnout, Brown had to grab 15% of them, simply to be competitive while at the same time taking all the Republican vote and 75% of the independents.  How to do this when the paid Democrat army is vacuuming the city for votes?

    For god’s sake, the state elected a guy who turned a blind eye to a gambling operation in his living room.

    High minded talk about Brown’s message or manager or whatever is just bull shit.  Bottom line is, in today’s Massachusetts, a Republican can’t win in a Presidential election year against a party staffed with workers paid for by your tax dollars.  2010 was a lightning strike-a combination of Coakley ineptness combined with an off year election plus a slow reaction by the machine.

  11. Great points Gary and Roarkarchitect.  

    We haven’t adapted to the new methods yet.  I think it’s probably a little hand-in-hand being a conservative, those new-fangled methods like the innernets are scary…

    Here’s a great article which talks about this:


    Adapt or perish!

    (One problem however, the young people we need who understand this transition are turned off by a party that seems to feature grouchy old white men who don’t like gays and think that women can spontaneously abort fetuses resultant from legitimate rape….)  

  12. A O’s criticisms are not unreasonable but they tend to boil down to that the reason Brown lost was because he was not statesman of rare vision, depth of thought and communication skills. Well, no, he wasn’t because guys like that are, well RARE. Brown is just politician of average mind and above average decency and work ethic. And unfortunately he also didn’t have an army of Tom Paines to flack for him.

    The vision thing is  nice to have but you can’t just jot it down on the back of an envelope over a beer at a Republican meetup. In fact you couldn’t do it even if you were a cross between the aformentioned Tom Paine and Edmund Burke. It has to grow organically out of the people participating in the political process and talking about it. I think the Tea Party and GOP activism is starting to grow this and frankly is is easier to do when you are in the political wilderness. The 15-year stretch of Republican Governors is one of the causes that hollowed out the party ideologically.

    Conservatives (working through the GOP) essentially have tocreate two machines. One is the traditional vote machine. It will never be as well-oiled and “humming” as the Democratic one but then it doesn’t have to be; it just has to produce a higher percentage out of the Democratic redoubts  (namely the cities) than it is getting now.

    The other machine is the information machine to counter the media. Not too many years ago this would have been impossible. Now everyone who licked an envelope, wrote a check or slapped on a bumper sticker must learn the lesson Brietbart and the Tea Party: YOU must become the media. We have to turn ourselves into an army of Tom Paines. Yes this IS asking for much but in a more distributed fashion.

  13. Aside from that ridiculous refusal to call the Democratic Party by its actual name, this was really interesting. I think you’re right about a blown opportunity here. Certainly, in more liberal-leaning circles, there was a lot of concern that Brown had the opportunity to crack open the left-grip in this state, and as you explain very well, it was a substantive shortcoming on his part that ensured that wouldn’t happen.

    I honestly hope people on the right hear commentary like this. Certainly, the left needs to be reeled in sometimes, but a ship without a rudder is going to have trouble even fishing for us.

  14. Feast your eyes on this Mass. Numbers article that looks at the working class votes won by Elizabeth Warren:

    It is striking that these large gains were realized throughout the Commonwealth, from Springfield and Holyoke in Western Massachusetts, to Fitchburg and Worcester in Central Massachusetts, Lowell and Lawrence in the Merrimack Valley, Lynn and Revere on the North Shore, to Brockton, Fall River, and New Bedford in the Southeast.

    The key similarity between all these communities is their working-class demographics and the much larger voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election. The Warren campaign and the Massachusetts Democratic Party were obviously successful in communicating Warren’s message and also getting their voters to the polls on November 6th. The ability of Elizabeth Warren to realize large gains in working-class cities was a large reason for her comfortable margin of victory.

  15. I worry that our state will become California/New York or Illinois.

    There is a saying  “you can indict a ham sandwich”. In  Massachusetts you can elect one if there is a D after their name. Or someone who could not get a security clearance because their spouse is a felon.

    I get the feeling the Democrats will get over confident – and try and pass some bills or taxes that will get the citizens mad.

  16. We all agree that the Democrats have a well-oiled & powerful political machine. Yet we seldom ask ourselves the following question: why? Obviously every person who constitutes a “cog” in said machine has a vested interest in the outcome of any political election. If you’re a state employee, you want to protect your job from anyone in the other party whose policies will curtail your job prospects within the public sector. You become a Democrat because the Democrats support a larger role for the public sector within society. That’s the practical aspect of who they are.

    Yet the party also offers a VISION as to WHY the Leviathan state is necessary for a civilized society. That vision is buttressed by a practical ideology to make the vision a reality. The totality of the party’s ideology is reflected in the totality of its reach. Thanks to the social compact aspect of this vision – “one for all & all for one” – even a sleaze like Tierney can survive an ouster so long as he continues to register fealty to the ideals of the Democrat party.

    The state GOP’s lack of vision attracts fewer & fewer people. Any attempt to transform the GOP into some version of Democrat Lite will fail because people will always choose the real thing as opposed to its xeroxed version. Even the party’s stab at neo-libertarianism is a lurch towards irrelevancy when you consider the social compact component of the Bay State’s culture – going back to the days of the Pilgrims – is a core aspect of its self-regard as a Commonwealth.

    John Galt may sniff at the Democrats as another form of organized crime but a John Doe type person will join the Democrats if he isn’t an alpha male who confidently conquers the universe. Rather, such a person (& they are more numerous than we care to admit) will find fulfillment as a “cog” in a machine so long as said machine assigns him a place in society that makes him feel like he’s performing a useful service (however THAT is defined). Multiply him, his family, his friends, his co-workers, & his neighbors by a factor of X & you have the team of people who not only man the political machine but a team who share the vision that made possible the creation of said machine.

    Republicans out of necessity must offer a contrasting vision that attracts enough people to make possible a political machine of its own. The current Democrat paradigm has been successful for many decades but it can’t sustain itself indefinitely. When the paradigm falters, so too will its machine. The GOP must act now to put into place a practical ideology (from which will emerge its  own political machine) that will be ready to be tried once the crisis of the Democrat’s paradigm manifests itself (as it already has in Europe). If done right, the GOP will triumph again.

  17. 1) Professor as a derogatory

    2) Cherokee Gate

    3) Law Gate

    4) That crap about her work

    This was a horribly run campaign, focusing on everything but real issues, at a time when people are still pissed all over at incumbents.  Everything from his campaign screamed “I’m a Republican” but his own word.

    Now maybe that’s because he was looking at internals that were far worse than where the race was publicly at the time.  But you can trace his public polling decline to him seeming to want to skirt the first debate, after starting the first rounds of Cherokee attacks, to the continuing of trying to find some unicorn that would stick.

    It killed his favorables and made him not look very Senatorial or Bipartisan.  

    Compare and contrast this run to 2010.  It was night and day in the style of campaign he ran.  One he won, one he lost.  

  18. I’ve no problem with legitimate compromise so long as said compromise points us in the direction we want to go. Brown’s compromises were hit or miss affairs & some of his compromises provided sustenance for the Democrat paradigm. Sustenance from a Republican politician legitimizes the Democrat’s hold on political power.

  19. Romney was a classic Massachusetts Establishment Republican in that he lacked an ideological core from which he could summon forth alternative policy prescriptions. His mantra of “competence” as a reason for being president echoed the same rationale that fueled Mike Dukakis’ run for office back in 1988. In both cases, “competence” wasn’t enough of a qualifier to most voters. Romney’s negatives obviously affected Brown but Brown’s own negatives played a part as well. The GOP in this state will only succeed when they start defining themselves through a practical ideology that proposes a paradigm significantly more progressive in providing liberty to its citizens than the paradigm currently sustained & promulgated by the Democrats. Only then will the party entice enough voters to make it viable again.

  20. for months the only Scott Brown ads I heard were about Boston sports history.  He didn’t need to convince anyone he was a good guy to have a beer with.  He needed to convince people that he had grown into the role as a Senator who could vigorously represent out interests.  The campaign expected to reelect Brown on a “he’s just one of us” platform, which was a miscalculation.  People expect more than that.

  21. …and would forget as soon as they passed the polling threashold…


  22. If Brown reads your comments, I hope he takes them to heart should he decide to take another crack at public office.

  23. The Democrats don’t rely on their Town Committees; however, we seem to think of them as the only source of manpower. There’s no way a group of 35 people (usually it’s much fewer than that) can supply all the manpower one community needs to adequately fulfill the needs of campaigns from US Senate on down to county commissioner. They should be a supplementary force, and I believe that they should be mostly focused on promoting to GOP as a whole in their community.  

  24. I’ve experienced the same situation working with RTCs (especially this past election cycle where the lack of participation was high). Most have become complacent. Some of them prefer to be run as social clubs & NOT be run as political organizations. Again, these alleged extensions of the state party lack the kind of vision that attracts new people to join them. If the party had more activists like you, the state GOP would be a lot healthier than it is right now.

  25. Too bad Brown’s campaign brain trust didn’t take your insight into consideration.

  26. The activist pool is a fraction of the Democrats.

    The Mass Victory organization ended up doing very almost nothings as well (except as part of the Brown campaign), and certainly contributed little except phone banking to anyone downstream.

  27. Comes into play.  Conservatism as a train of intellectual thought, offers a guide to work within, but ultimately the old ideas and arguments are not as strong if they once were, if not totally mauled and warped from their conservative routes.  There’s plenty of conservative “Democrats” that abstain or have no where else to turn to, as they saw the old New England Republican guard leave them.

    The party will do itself a service to appeal to them, while coming up with NEW policy ideas, instead of recycling those we’ve used since the 80’s.

    Otherwise, were going to lose a generation of voters, and well feel the effects far longer.

    Going down my Facebook there were a lot of sadness and bitterness at the outcome last night.  But almost everyone (of my young generation) was finding solace in ME voting for equality, of people being able to expand on conservative values.  These are young Conservatives mind you.  The current party, especially here in MA, needs to take their lead.  

    Demographics and change demand it, unless we like hovering between 10-15% the electorate, and sitting in a corner bitching and yelling at clouds.  

  28. buttressed by the national party direction, a lot of Republican ideology isn’t very conservative anymore.  The old themes are there, but they’ve been dialed up to 11 and don’t much represent the original ideas of the intellectual movement we’re supposed to be adhering to.

    It’s a crutch on us up here, while it wins elections down south.  

  29. Ryan, it’s always been my contention that Massachusetts Republicans need to re-brand themselves as either the conservative (classical) liberals or the liberal (classical) conservatives as a way to re-launch itself before the voters.

    Doing so would position us more securely in the Bay State since it not only is a liberal state but it is proud of its heritage. Remember that our country was forged in the fires of revolution against the status quo & that Massachusetts was a leader in our nation’s birth as a beacon of political liberalism. Republicans sometimes forget that reality.

    The Republican Party of Lincoln was also born in the spirit of liberalism with regards to its abolition of slavery, the passage of the Homestead Act, & making Thanksgiving a national holiday. Teddy Roosevelt’s GOP reigned in monopolies, pushed the environmental movement, & successfully passed laws that gave women the right to vote.

    Given the fact that the leadership of today’s Democrat Party has embraced the ethos of the French Revolution (&, in the process, rejected the liberal patrimony of the American Revolution), it’s now up to today’s GOP leadership to adapt the essential practical ideology of the Founding Fathers & adapt it to the realities of today’s voters in Massachusetts.

    Not in the South.

    Not in the Midwest.

    Not in the West Coast.

    Those other sections of the country have their own unique expressions of conservatism.

    We need to develop a conservatism for New England in general & for Massachusetts in particular. Uniting fusion conservatism with the (updated) practical ideology of the Founding Fathers & re-branding it as a more authentic form of liberalism will put the GOP in a better position to fight the Democrats & their profoundly reactionary politics.

    To make all this happen, a group of Republican activists need to host a series of salons to talk/debate about the details. It would be nice if the GOP State Committee & viable RTCs got actively involved in the process & I’m sure a handful of individuals will gladly participate but realistically most of the institutions in question will avoid any involvement.

    That’s OK. Work with Republicans who have a positive attitude on rebuilding the party. Let’s get the conversation(s) going NOW before another election cycle slips from the grasp of the Massachusetts GOP.

  30. Check out my observations up above on one approach we can take to address this problem.

  31. The fruits of their respective campaign plans now belong to the ages.

  32. He started off as a conservative protege’ of Ray Shamie, made the calculated move to become a “moderate”, & nowadays plays the Fetchin’ Steppit lap dog for the area’s GOP-hostile press in the vain hope that somebody – anybody – will find him relevant. You’re right. Joe Malone does indeed epitomize “everything that is wrong with the MA GOP.”

  33. Levin is absolutely right. We should lustfully embrace his position & join him in pushing back against those in the GOP/conservative movement who want to water down their principles in an attempt to appease their political/ideological rivals. If these people lack confidence in what we believe in, then they should do themselves (& us) a favor & LEAVE.

  34. Republican Ram Rod Radio
  35. I guess I should have prefaced my remark that Brown’s re-election was his to lose – if he failed to prepare for it the minute he won his special election. And fail he did. First, Brown’s flip-flops on specific issues pissed off social conservatives & Tea Party activists. Some of his economic votes turned off libertarians as well. So Brown breaks the first cardinal rule of politics: shore up your base – don’t alienate them (especially in a “blue” state).

    Brown decides to re-brand himself as “independent” to broaden his appeal to Unenrolleds & targeted Democrats. Rhetoric aside, what PRACTICAL benefit did he offer to these voting blocks? For example, had he filed “signature” pro-labor legislation (which wouldn’t provide a major conflict with his pro-business beliefs) & worked hard to get it passed into law, he would have bolstered his chances of obtaining the support of a strong contingent of volunteers for his re-election. He might have even co-opted Menino’s machine for himself had he done the spade work years earlier.

    The Boston Globe article you reference points out repeatedly that one aspect that drove the volunteers to help Warren was not so much their love for her – many of them never even met her – but rather their love for each other. The turnout drive was something they do so often that some volunteers are specialist cogs in the Menino machine – which for them is a point of pride! Sure, you can snarl that these folks are “paid for by your tax dollars” but are you willing to turn away these people if by some act of God they offer to help out your/our candidate? Do you realize how (gasp!) REPUBLICAN you sound when you wonder aloud about “those” people? Dude, that kind of intolerant, dismissive, & judgmental attitude is why the GOP is NOT attracting a broad group of people & why the party is going down in flames!

    In politics it’s all about relationships. Brown became an instant celebrity after his special election & was often rated one of the state’s most popular politicians. But did he double-down on that burst of good will? Did he develop a network of relationships beyond those he already had in the GOP, in business, or in the Army National Guard? If not, then shame on him for not taking into consideration the magnitude of his re-election campaign & proactively doing what he needed to do to retain “the people’s seat”. The special election provided him the opportunity of a lifetime – & he blew it.

    Studies show that people are flocking back to the cities & that the suburbs will go into a slow yet steady decline (for a host of reasons too numerous to mention right now). If the GOP continues to ignore urban issues in urban areas, then it will continue to remain irrelevant to most voters – ESPECIALLY the ones who draw a check from the taxpayers.

  36. My response is listed below.

  37. Not enough foot soldiers – but he could have paid people.

    Not enough technology – the other side had an app to track who showed up to vote  – I don’t think we even knew who was going to show up. There was a lot of money – why didn’t we do this.

    Proper ad buying – Warren buying the home page of the globe and the herald on the day of the election was smart – she also purchased ads on youtube – I never saw them until I talked to someone from a younger generation.

    RTC – needs to be reorganized and maybe consolidated – in my town of 15K – nary a web page or anyway to contact the RTC – I held signs on my own volition.

    Aggressive  field offices – the leaders should have been salespeople constantly calling people to help.

    and even if all of these things happened – still not sure he would have won in a Presidential Year.  

  38. Most if not all of the items you’ve cited would probably apply to other Republicans running for office in Massachusetts. From what I’ve seen this past Election Day on Tuesday, the amount of passionate GOP volunteers from the RTCs & the RCCs manning the polls of their respective communities paled in comparison/contrast to the amount of passionate Democrats doing the same thing. Given the reality of your other points, one must ask the question: does the GOP nowadays lack the passion for partisan politics? If so, why? If not, why hasn’t said passion translated into a much more effective ground game to match that of the equally passionate Democrats? Is it the fault of the GOP State Committee, the party’s minority leaders on Beacon Hill, the folks running the RTCs/RCCs, the party platform, or all of the above?

  39. Please, you can’t stitch together a winning coalition of folks who use words like “bipartisan tyranny”.

    Let’s face it: ideology means very, very little to the large mass of folks in the middle.

    Ideologues will either hold their noses and vote for the person who most represents their interests (in our cases the republican) or will sit home in their easy chair listening to their crazy talk radio compatriots and stay home.  Frankly: good riddance.

    We need leaders willing to work together to solve the difficult issues of the day, and sitting around quoting Ayn Rand ain’t going to do it.  

    We Massachusetts Republicans can’t sit around bemoaning “moderates” who lose elections when the problem isn’t the ideology (because, again, the voters who are up for grabs aren’t really about ideology), it’s having a candidate who projects the image of someone who can get something done, and then finding our voters and getting them out there.

    In my humble opinion, we failed on both accounts.  Scott’s campaign spent way too much time making him look like a bully (and frankly, when you get down to it, the cherokee stuff was absolutely stupid as a headline piece.  Make the point quickly and move on to other stuff.  It just lingered and the “normal people” I spoke with were sick and tired of it), and not enough time projecting an image of what he was going to do, and, as usual, our ground game sucked.

    There are a few sterling activists — a friend of mine who is a state committee person personally made over 4,000 phone calls — but for the most part the party lacks the discipline necessary to pull off a win against super-organized democrats.

    I think ideology ranks pretty low on the list of things important to the “up for grabs” voters.  Competence and character are winners.  Scott’s own campaign sullied his character, and the focus on the bullshit (cherokee, to a lesser extent the asbestos thing, which may have worked had the cherokee thing not dragged on for so long) distracted from the better stuff like his pushes for new ethics laws and his ability to work with the other side, which I think voters truly want after so many years of hyper-partisan idiotship in Washington.

  40. The national GOP has developed a great bunch of leaders who are Presidential material.

    Wisconsin got more republican – maybe  we should figure out what they are doing?

  41. The GOP will continue to lose the ground war in Massachusetts until it gets serious & 1) adopts a practical ideology that provides an alternative vision & the means to achieve it; 2) engages itself in community affairs on the same granular level that has been perfected by the Democrats; & 3) maintain an effective organization/machine that continues to purr before, during, & after each election cycle (instead of reinventing it from scratch every election cycle).

  42. “(Y)ou can’t stitch together a winning coalition of folks who use words like ‘bipartisan tyranny’.”

    True – & utterly irrelevant with regards to Levin. He’s an entertainer. His colorful schtick attracts enough of an audience to keep his advertisers happy. If the advertisers are happy, Levin stays on the airwaves. The longer he remains of the airwaves, the longer he can influence a mass audience if not win over a portion of them to his point of view. You can quibble over the terms he uses but bear in mind the Left is equally nimble in the terms they use – like “war on women” – no matter how demagogic they come across. Now our side can “be nice” & refrain from being pugilistic as the other side smash mouths our party/ideology into smithereens as they did this past election cycle. The result? We lost & they won. Sure, they won ugly. But they still won. To paraphrase General Patton, America loves winners & hates losers.

    “(I)deology means very, very little to the large mass of folks in the middle.”

    You’re right. People don’t want to think while they participate in the bread-and-circus atmosphere of contemporary society. But ideology is what drives any group of leaders who want to change the world. The trick is to make sure an ideology can be effectively encapsulated in a short phrase. For the Founding Fathers, it can be something like “that government which governs best is the one that governs the least”; for Democrats it can be something like “make sure the rich pay their fair share” while for Republicans it can be “maintain our checks & balances system”. An ideology may indeed mean “very little” to the average voter but said voter still craves some kind of vision from his/her leaders. Such visions usually spring from ideologies. Democrats understand this in their bones. Not so the GOP.

    “(G)ood Riddance.”

    Future research will probably prove that Team Obama’s vicious million plus dollar character assassinations against Romney during the spring of 2012 targeted at key groups in battleground states convinced enough voters (over two million) to stay home – & allow Obama to win. I’m sure the last thought in Romney’s mind would be “good riddance”.

    “(C)ompetence and character are winners.”

    If that observation were true, Congressman John Tierney (D-MA) would be clearing out his Washington office come January. You’re right that these are important traits & that Brown sullied them for some of the reasons you cited. But said traits by themselves don’t guarantee victory – especially in a culture that more often than not mocks them.

    “(T)he party lacks the discipline necessary to pull off a win against super-organized democrats.”

    I agree. The question we must now ask is why? Why aren’t there more people like your friend who busted his ass making those 4,000 phone calls? Why is it that Democrats can attract such a disciplined group of people & the GOP can’t? These questions get asked by many activists every election cycle & yet it seems that no one in the GOP bothers to respond with a serious answer (or a serious inquiry) & the whole thing repeats itself again & again & again.

  43. The question we must now ask is why? Why aren’t there more people like your friend who busted his ass making those 4,000 phone calls? Why is it that Democrats can attract such a disciplined group of people & the GOP can’t?

    The Democrat activists are these:  1) activists with a particular cause, whether it’s more money for the kid’s school, or more money for free lawyers, or more money for free health care, the common theme is “more money for __“. 2) Unions where the failure to show up means a fine from the union or 3) Town/city/state employees.  i.e. the payroll patriots.

    1. Motivation. Meanwhile, back at the Republican, why on earth would I be motivated to seek office or actively work for someone seeking office, when I generally want little to do with government.  

    2. The pay sucks.  Just optimistically speculating, if I took the time and energy, maybe I could put together a pretty good race for say, state rep. But why? I got no particular cause or axe to grind and the pay wildly sucks.  I’ll keep the day job.  I think most conservatives have no particular cause that they think government can solve.

    3. Things are good enough.  I may groan and moan about the size and waste and regulation….but until the government over-reaches with some program or law that directly and materially affects me, I’ll just continue to groan and moan and throw a few bucks at the Republican candidate.  But, get up in the a.m. and blow off work to knock on doors?!  How nonproductive is that!

    Solution:  Buy the ground game.  Works for the Yankees and sometimes for the Sox.

    1: Pick the 6 cities that threw the election to Warren: Boston, Worcester, Springfield, New Bedford, Lynn, Lowell, Somerville.

    2: Hire 5 captains for boston and 3 for each of the other cities.  Pay each captain $1,000 per month for 2016 + $15 per R vote increase above the comparable period for selected offices + $15 for each new R registrant + a bonus if the R candidate wins.  Whole thing would probably cost around $5 million.

  44. You’re on to something, Gary. I’m not sure that privatizing political activism as a strategy is a sustainable one but I think aspects of your idea have merit. If the ideology of the Democrats is centralized government power & its practical application is to provide employment to its various levels of gatekeepers within state government & NGOs, then the ideology of the GOP should be decentralized state government power where the cities & town are empowered at the expense of the state. Obviously this would entail changing the nature of the GOP state committee, the RTCs, & the RCCs. It would also mean a completely different way of looking at politics so that the profession can be as agile as certain sectors of the economy. But I think the party needs to take ideas such as yours into consideration as its members discuss what can be done to upgrade the GOP brand & to do so in a way that empowers its base & the public.

  45. When you don’t have an army you buy one.  I absolutely think a portion of the money which went to ads (which just are so much wallpaper after a point) should go to building a footsoldier army.

    (But… could there some sort of financial incentive making these candidates rely on advertising?  Don’t the campaign ad guys get some sort of percentage on the buys?)

  46. Edward59, I know that Scott Brown is an average guy & I don’t expect him to transform himself into the greatest statesman in the world. Ted Kennedy was no genius either but he was savvy enough to surround himself with some brilliant people who made Kennedy look like God’s gift to mankind. [Conservatives, thankfully, were never fooled].

    And the vision thing doesn’t have to be handed down to the activists like the Ten Commandments. The key people in the party should be able to distill the vision thing in its purest form so that it can be easily communicated to the party faithful & disseminated to the general public. Only with a vision in place will the party machinery find its groove again.

    However, there are no “two” machines. There’s only one. And if you’re putting your hopes in the GOP getting enough non-urban votes to deflect the Democrats strength in the cities, you obviously haven’t paid attention to the latest demographics that show cities are attracting more young people while the suburbs are experiencing a contraction in population. That means Republicans MUST develop an urban strategy (if it hasn’t already) to compete with Democrats or risk being a permanent minority if the 2012 election results are an omen of things to come.

    Your closing paragraph is actually spot on with regards to what Republicans must do to be effective in the future. This is especially true with regards to creating alternative media, entertainment, & academic salons that presents a conservative point of view seldom promulgated to the public at large. Change the culture & you’ll change its politics.

    No, it’s NOT asking too much for GOP activists to become more engaged in their communities than they have been in the past. Given the consequences springing from the liberals embrace of Mao Tse Tung‘s idea of the “permanent revolution” by way of Saul Alinsky, it’s imperative that conservatives meet these challenges. As Edmund Burke once said, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”. And as the 2012 election demonstrated, complacency will be our undoing.

  47. That media is not helping.  It’s not introspective and a net positive, it’s a bunch of cheerleaders and

    It’s one thing to have a counterbalance to the liberal MSM.  It’s another to have a institution filled with snake oil salesmen and borderline unstable ideologues that think reality conforms to will, and that we can always solve problems with cookie cutter solutions dating back 30-40 years, if only we were more conservative.

    It’s good to have determination and a spine.  That’s different than willfully ignorant of reality, and refusing to adapt.  Right now conservative media is not set up to help the party, but to re-ensure it and to sell it what it wants to hear.  That’s why so many people in the movement felt like a freight train hitting a concrete barrier at 100mph last week.

    Their own media lied, stretched the truth, and generally cheerleaded rather than informed us.  When Obama flunked his first debate there was some mild annoyance at the moderator coming from the left, but mostly people freaked the fuck out on Obama.  When Romney had a bad second debate, everyone attacked the moderator and spun it as a win.  From reports, there’s evidence even the campaign didn’t think it was a bad as it was. That’s called shooting yourself in the foot.

  48. Excellent observations, Ryan. Conservatives have to be as critical of their right-of-center allies in the media as they are with their left-of-center mass communication rivals. Criticism forces both wings of the media establishment to abide by basic professional standards or risk being exposed to the public as people who are unfit for their jobs.  

  49. Thoughtful give & take between political rivals is vital for the health of our political system, our culture, & our country.

  50. I was making my spreadsheets and maps, and came across that Brown lost Fitchburg. I was shocked.

    By the looks of it, the old fashioned, union-run Democratic machinery got out their voters better in the old Democratic strongholds, even in places like Fitchburg, where Brown had appeared to demolish the Democratic hegemony.

    I didn’t expect that. I thought Brown had Warren beat with blue-collar voters. Brown actually over-performed with white-collar Independents, picking up quite a few new voters in the 128/495 suburbs.

    Perhaps the absence of these urban Democratic voters who did not turn out in Jan 2010 is the reason why Republicans are competitive in non-Presidential elections. Perhaps they are heavily minority and lower class voters, constituencies that Democrats have won over solidly. Yet, it seems to me that if Brown had pushed harder in the cities, not Boston or Springfield or Brockton, but in Lowell, Worcester, Beverly, Fitchburg, Revere, he could have made this election a little more interesting on election night. Their neighbors who voted two years ago seemed to like him a lot, I suspect they could have been won over too. Are round the clock ads about Planned Parenthood the way to go there, or perhaps Scott should have returned to his jobs and economic message of two years ago? I think the latter would have worked better.

  51. When Brown ran in the special election, many working class Old Left Democrats liked him, identified with the image he projected, & voted for him. The fact that he failed to allay their economic fears (& thus many were swayed by Warren’s arguments that Brown would be a loyal foot soldier – or useful idiot – to the GOP’s aristocratic plutocrats) compelled them to either vote against him or leave the ballot blank. The magnitude of Brown’s lost in the second & third tier urban areas should be a wake-up call for the state GOP to immediately develop an urban strategy that makes Republicans competitive in the cities. If that doesn’t happen, the GOP will suffer permanent minority status & possibly extinction.

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