Womp Womp: "One-Fifth" of Dems in Massachusettts Are Undecided

Daniel Doherty
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Posted: Oct 16, 2014 2:35 PM
Womp Womp: "One-Fifth" of Dems in Massachusettts Are Undecided

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley might not lose on Election Day, but here are a few questions keeping Bay State Democrats up at night:

Why is Coakley failing to bring out the base? Is there something about her candidacy that Democrats don’t like or trust? Why, for that matter, are so many Democratic partisans in the state wallowing in uncertainty and indecision? As WMUR’s Paul McMorrow recently explained, Coakley has a slight problem on her hands:

Six weeks of WBUR tracking polls in the race for governor show Coakley struggling to rally the Democratic base to her side. The most recent WBUR poll showed Coakley garnering support from just 62 percent of Democrats (not including leaners). Coakley’s standing among registered Democrats has barely moved since the end of August, when she was polling at 63 percent among Democrats in a matchup against Baker.

It’s not that Baker has made significant inroads among Democrats: In August, he was winning 11 percent of the Democratic vote, and in last week’s poll, he was capturing 15 percent. (Baker took 14 percent of the Democratic vote against Patrick in 2010.) But since the end of the summer, one-fifth of Democratic voters have been sitting on the fence, undecided between Coakley and Baker. The longer they stay away from home, the tougher Coakley’s path to victory gets.

Democratic voters have been unusually cool to their party’s nominee this year. At this point in the Warren-Brown Senate race, a WBUR poll had Warren up among Democrats, 72 to 21, with just 7 percent of Democrats undecided. A Suffolk University survey in late September 2012 showed Warren capturing 81 percent of the Democratic vote, with 6 percent undecided. Compared to those two data points, Coakley’s inability to consolidate the Democratic vote looms large. Her current deficit among independents is in line with the figures Patrick and Warren posted against Baker and Brown. But Coakley can’t afford to concede scores of unenrolled voters to Baker if she can’t make up the difference with a lopsided victory among Democrats.

In other words, if Democrats abandon her at the polls, she’s probably going to lose. This is why she cannot allow Democrats to sit at home and wait for Elizabeth Warren to run for president before they vote again. Worse, Rasmussen Reports’ hot-off-the-press survey released today (unlike WBUR’s offering yesterday) shows her already losing:

A new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Massachusetts Voters finds Republican Charlie Baker picking up 48% of the vote to Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley’ 46%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, while five percent (5%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Needless to say, Coakley has a lot riding on this race. Will she be remembered as the "Bill Buckner of politics,” or as a pioneering, glass-ceiling-shattering state governor?

We’ll know soon enough.