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That's what the Globe gets for ignoring Libertarian candidates (my biased election analysis)

[There are many Democratic analysts and Republican analysts spouting off about the election. I figure why not a Libertarian one?]

The Boston Globe gave Libertarian candidate, Joe "No Relation" Kennedy, almost no coverage at all. For instance, when he took part in a televised debate involving all three candidates, he received a one-line mention the next day. It was the same with many news sources and media outlets in Massachusetts. While it was not unanimous dismissal, it was widespread.

If the same outlets that ignored him so mightily had, instead, built him up as even marginally viable, he might have drawn enough votes from Brown to have given Coakley a fighting chance. Instead, he was treated as though he didn't exist, and this cost the liberals.

The one truly masterful stroke in Coakley's campaign came via her making sure that Kennedy was involved in all debates. Coakley reasoned - and rightly so - that a strong Kennedy showing would hurt Brown more than it would hurt her. The reason? While libertarians (and the libertarian-leaning) will be concerned with issues dear to the right at some times and dear to the left at other times, the issues on the right appear more pressing at the moment. Tax hikes are an immediate threat to them, as is the gigantic bureaucracy looming from enactment of health care legislation. There are no similar issues on the left, at least which Coakley came out in favor of, that currently resonate as strongly with most libertarians.

Coakley insisted Kennedy be included. She played it correctly. The problem is that "her" media didn't play it right. Rather than building up Kennedy and giving those on the right an opportunity to divide their voting strength, they ignored Kennedy from the get-go (aside from a few snickers concerning his name) and those whose main concern was preserving their monetary freedom lined up almost exclusively with Brown since Kennedy was seen as trivial. Those voters who barely knew him - folks who might have given him actual consideration had they been made to think he was serious - instead were told that he didn't have anything substantive to say and that they'd be wasting their votes if they cast one for him. And rather than drawing any votes from Brown, Kennedy garnered a bit more than 22,000 votes; what amounted to the former enrollment numbers when the Libertarian Party had state major party status. The hard core voted for him, but nobody else was drawn from Brown.

Had the issues been different - for instance, if Coakley had painted herself as an anti-war candidate - then inclusion and subsequent build up of Kennedy might have eaten into her support. However, Kennedy and Brown were in some agreement on enough of the issues to have made Kennedy a spoiler of Brown's campaign, not Coakley's. That he didn't become one was strictly a fault of the more liberal-leaning media. They could have made him one via the expedient of just doing the morally right thing and mentioning he and his views as often as they did Brown's and Coakley's. They didn't, and their candidate lost a valuable resource.

If you believe that Brown had much stronger core support, and that Kennedy couldn't have made a difference, consider that if Kennedy had been played up earlier on, while Coakley still held a substantial lead in most polls, then the upsurge in optimism and gung-ho get-out-the-vote fervor for Brown, which occurred during the final two weeks, would probably not have materialized to the extent it did. If the Globe and others had given Kennedy some major play, to the point where he was showing even a solid 5% or 6% in polls, then many voters who came out for Brown would likely not have been energized to do so. Those committed to Kennedy would not have shifted, and those not seeing a chance for Brown to win would have stayed home. In later polls, Brown would likely never have shown a lead, and Coakley might still have pulled out a squeaker despite the other horrible mismanagement of her campaign.

As a Libertarian who has seen the Globe (and others) ignore Libertarian candidates with impunity for decades, seeing Brown win was sweet. Not that I find him any more palatable than Coakley, but just knowing that the Globe and others blew it, when all they had to do was treat Kennedy as an equal to affect the outcome in their favor, is priceless.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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Comments

Lots of libertarian minded folks were well aware of Joe Kennedy and his positions, and received Carla Howell's nutty 3-part email series instructing small government types not to vote for Brown but to vote for Kennedy, saying it would be a "Ross Perot type teachable moment". The arguments didn't hold water. THIS is the teachable moment, Coakley's defeat, not voting for a spoiler. And just about every small government type with two neurons to run together knew it. Had the Boston Globe done in depth profiles of Joe Kennedy it wouldn't have changed a thing. As it is, I still suspect 1/2 of his votes came from senile Democrats who thought he was the Joe (yes relation) Kennedy.

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Time will tell if Brown's victory is more of people running from the one side of the ship to the other - as they did with Obama's election - or if it's a bellweather for real change.

What's going to matter is whether his election actually 1) puts the breaks on massive government expansion and 2) turns it around so we actually start CUTTING government spending, CUTTING taxes, CUTTING debt, and scaling back government regulation.

Carla Howell was absolutely right in warning us that Brown may not do either because she exposed his actual voting record in the state senate: tax increases, budget increases, RomneyCare, and yes, he even voted for cap-and-trade. All things that he ran AGAINST in this campaign.

Should we trust what a candidate SAYS he will do or what he ACTUALLY did in office? And if setting the record straight is "nutty", then elected officials have absolutely NO incentive not to sell us down the river - again - and give us more Big Government.

Brown is now ducking questions about how he'll actually vote in the U.S. Senate. THis is not a good sign. We should hold him to the fire NOW while the iron is hot - or all we'll get from his victory is more like him who will be great at campaigning - and terrible at governing.

Let's hope this election teaches us all a much better lesson than that!

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I suspect 80-90% of Kennedy's success at the polls is attributable to Coakley's insistence that he be part of every debate. After that you want her campaign to use it's media contacts to make him look good in the press, instead of using them to her own advantage, in hope the the votes Joe earns are taken from Scott, not undecided, not Coakley. Hmmm...

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You could make the argument that the Boston Globe was not on Coakley's side at all. The Globe was "his media" and thus they buried any mention of Kennedy lest he steal away votes from "their guy."

The truth is that most forms media in the US favor the establishment, and the status quo in America is the two-party system. If you have points of view not represented by the Republicrats, well you're the weirdo freak who has to deal with that.

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During the time that the Libertarian Party enjoyed major party status under Massachusetts law, enrollment under the designation "Libertarian" peaked at approximately the same number as the total number of votes given Joseph L. Kennedy in this election. It is quite logical to assume that most of those votes were cast by some of the same people who registered, at one time, as Libertarian. There is no way of knowing for sure how many pulled the trigger for him because of some mistaken notion concerning a relationship to our dead one-time senator, but I think the connection with L voters is more probable.

As for his "success" being attributable to his being included in the debates, I would again refer to the numbers above. His appearances in the debates, in and of themselves, did little to enhance or detract from his vote totals. He was marginalized in the Gergen-moderated debate, and that probably cost him as many votes as he may have gained from being given a better showing in the Keller/WBZ spot. His performance in the debates is another matter. His non-politically-astute answering of the "Who would you vote for if you weren't in the race?" questions, posed by both Gergen and (later) Jim Braude, gave any voters who might have been deciding between he and Brown the A-OK to give Brown a vote rather than he.

It would have made perfect sense for the Globe, and others wishing Coakley's success, to build up Kennedy. I'm not saying that they should have praised him, and if that's what anyone got from this, my apologies for not being clearer. I was only saying that making him appear more viable could almost certainly have not hurt Coakley and probably would have hurt Brown. It is a sound political tactic to attempt to split your opposition's power, so I fail to see why anyone would find this a stretch.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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There is no way of knowing for sure how many pulled the trigger for him because of some mistaken notion concerning a relationship to our dead one-time senator, but I think the connection with L voters is more probable.

Looks like Suldog has been reading enough Fivethirtyeight to learn good ways of sorting these things out!

Not like the guy changed his legal name to cause confusion. He likely got that core of L votes, plus a few who liked him over Brown, minus a few who liked Brown.

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