- In the January 2006 caucuses, Patrick swept to a landslide victory in a venue which should have been empahtically unfriendly to him. Consequently, he won the Democratic convention in June.
- Despite a deluge of postiive Gabrieli ads over the summer, Patrick held his own, hovering at around 35% in the polls. Shortly after going on the air, Partick’s support ticked up to about 45%, and he never looked back.
- Patrick’s poll numbers in the general election went from about 24% ahead, down to 13% ahead after the onslaught of LaGuer ads, and rebounded to 24% ahead or so shortly afterwards.
- Last night, Patrick won an emphatic landslide victory, with 56% of the votes to Healey’s 35%, Mihos’s 7%, and Ross’s 2%.
I view the first three of these events as major turning points in the campaign, and I am not sure why they happened. The first event, the caucus victory, could probably be attributed to serious on-the-ground organizing combined with John Walsh’s incisive knowledge about plaing the insider Democratic game. The third event still leaves me a bit baffled. I had a brief chat with Will Hafer about it a little while ago, and he thought that maybe it was because Healey had nothing positive to offer, and so voters responded badly to the negative attacks. Simplistically speaking, if you’re going to go negative, that only means people will pay attention to you. If you don’t give them something to vote for, they’ll get mad at you.
The real miracle, it seems to me, is what happened in the primaries. It makes sense that Patrick would pick up a good bit of support once he got on the air – although 10% is quite a lot of ground to pick up in a three-way race, which speaks to the effectiveness of the ads. What doesn’t make sense to me is the 35% or so of the Democratic primary voters who were with Patrick despite the onslaught of Gabrieli and Reilly ads. The only way to explain this massive bank of support is that the 35% represented Patrick’s die-hard base, the folks like me who were sticking with him come hell or high water.
I’m a bit hesitant to claim that 35% of the Democratic party fits this profile, since it seems so absurdly high to me. That’s 35% of the Deemocratic party which the progressive movement and the Patrick campaign were able to reach through non-traditional media – the blogs, phone calls, and door-to-door visits – and a bit of free media. When you think about how many people voted in the primary, that is an absurd number.
Anyway, I suppose we should not be hesitant to claim our victory. To be sure, Patrick’s campaign did many, many things right; they “got” the idea of engaging the netroots; they “got” the idea of grassroots organizing; they “got” the idea of values-driven messaging and substantive policy proposals. But the core of Patrick’s historic landslide last night came on the back of a powerful Massachusetts progressive movement which proved that it doesn’t need paid media to win statewide elections. That is a breathtaking development in our statewide politics.