I think we can all agree that the People’s Agreement was a mistake by him. In trying to keep out environmental, women’s and labor groups in particular, he put himself in a position to destroy his own likeability. He should have counted on the possibility that if he was going to need to go so negative against Warren, he would undermine his image. He should have seen the money she was going to pull in, and realized he needed the Chamber and Crossroads to do more to protect him from himself. Sadly, I fear that this also may mean the end of these People’s Agreements. He had far more to lose. I think he also never imagined that he could go up against a fundraising machine that bested his.
Second, while I do think Brown has some image repair to do, he remains an incredibly strong candidate. If John Kerry leaves, with no Obama coattails to rely on for our side, Scott Brown is immediately the prohibitive favorite to retake a senate seat against any Massachusetts Democrat other than Deval Patrick. That probably means that Kerry will not be the next Secretary of State. Obama can’t afford it. If he doesn’t leave, I wonder if there will be a Brown-Baker tussle for the GOP nomination for governor. I tend to doubt it, but it would be entertaining.
Third, and a corollary to the 2nd point, I remember hearing back a year ago that with the Obama coattails, any Democrat could beat Brown. An 8 point win certainly demonstrates that possibility. But in retrospect, with tens of millions of dollars spent by each side, I have to question that assumption. No other Democrat could have competed against Brown’s warchest, and in that case the People’s Agreement would have worked in Brown’s favor most likely.
Fourth, I conclude on the grassroots. Grassroots in this campaign played a vital role throughout. I don’t think we can underestimate the importance of thousands of volunteers talking to hundreds of thousands of voters as playing a key role in undermining the negative attacks, and building support. It is a critical lesson to learn for campaigns that investing in tv ads just isn’t enough to overcome these attacks. The GOP calls it the “Democratic Machine”. I call it grassroots activism.
If we want to win elections AND win on values, WE have to stay involved. We have to remain active. We have to find ways to continue to build local organizations to put in play during elections to ensure that our politicians hear from us not just at election time but also between elections. It shouldn’t take 14 months to build this, and it shouldn’t require a manna-from-heaven candidate to do so.