There is the general political environment that has made the Massachusetts Senate race so tight. There is the money-bomb from the GOP trying to turn this into the death-knell for health insurance reform. There is the effort made by Scott Brown. But then, as in every race, there's the candidate, Martha Coakley: a classic, insider, Democratic party machine hack with little talent and every single irritating aspect of the presumptious Massachusetts liberal. Think John Kerry. And then lower your standards a few thousand feet.
Barely campaigning, avoiding the press, courting out-of-state donors, and relying on activists and union organizers to get people to the polls, she responded to a reporter who challenged her strategy thus:
"As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands? This is a special election. And I know that I have the support of Kim Driscoll. And I now know the members of the [Salem] School Committee, who know far more people than I could ever meet.’
Blue Mass Group sums up much of the sentiment on the bloggy left:
Yes it sucks. Yes you have to vote Coakley.
Even the Globe, which endorsed her, has called her out for refusing to debate Brown one-on-one.
Rather than make a strong case for her own policies, she called Brown's surge in the polls frightening. Then she did what this kind of liberal does and lashed out at Brown with a series of negative ads that compared him to Bush and painted him as pro-life (his record is pro-choice).
Then there are the recent rhetorical blunders: Stating that al Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan, airing an ad that misspelled "Massachusetts," citing Republican "stalkers" in response to the assault of a Weekly Standard reporter by one of her staffers. And behind all this is a long history of questionable decisions that her opponents in both the primary and general elections have barely touched: her lax prosecution of a horrific rape case, her cutting a deal with a pedophile who molested again, her role in keeping an innocent man locked up, her incompetence in arguing a key Supreme Court case, her reluctance to pursue the Menino email scandal, her questionable use of campaign funds.
Brown hasn't even directly exploited much of this. But Massachusetts voters know it. If the Dems lose next Tuesday, they will deserve to.
(Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty.)