Sunday, March 11, 2012

U.S. Senate 2012: SO Angry To Get Started, Here We Go

The 2012 campaign season has begun, and the headliner in Massachusetts is a U.S. Senate race, as Scott Brown's seat is up this year and he's facing stiff competition from Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor best known for inventing the concept of the federal consumer protection bureau.

I have been out and about collecting signatures for Ms. Warren---As discussed previously on this blog the first step in an election here is to get a candidate on the ballot by collecting signatures on nomination petitions, or "papers," as they are called.

Some early observations:

1) You are either REALLY with Elizabeth Warren, or you're just fine with Scott Brown. I have met two types of voters this year. The first is so overly enthusiastic about Elizabeth Warren defeating Scott Brown that they stop in their tracks and rush over to sign my nomination papers. The second is just kind of like-- "I am fine with Scott Brown." People who are "fine" with someone can be swayed. While current polling shows Scott Brown ahead, I think that's because people don't care about the race yet and haven't thought about the differences between Senator Brown and Elizabeth Warren on the issues. The good news for the Warren camp is that pretty much everyone signing her papers is a supporter and is willing to do a lot more to help her get elected. Typically I find that the majority of people who sign nomination papers don't really have a strong opinion of the candidate but agree that everyone should have the chance to be on the ballot. That's not the case this year.

2) A lot of people are fine with Scott Brown. I was also surprised how in the liberal bastion of Beacon Hill within this liberal city of Boston so many voters are ok with Senator Brown. This early in an election season, voters think in line with favorability, and Senator Brown's favorability numbers are currently high. People like him, and for that reason there's no rush to instinctively vote for someone else.

3) The most enthusiastic Elizabeth Warren supporters are women. I guess this is not surprising, but compared to men, women in general were more likely to have a very negative impression of Senator Brown. As a group they also were better-read about Elizabeth Warren.

4) Why am I knocking on doors in January? Granted, I have not volunteered for a lot of campaigns, but I have never been a part of a campaign that has gotten started so early in the year. I was out knocking on doors in January, which is a little ridiculous. It's a long way from January to November, and that's a lot of time for voters to change their minds. So supporters in January-- well, who knows what they are thinking come November.

This is going to be a very tough fight for Elizabeth Warren, but based on initial impressions, there is a path to victory. The key for Warren supporters like me is to convince those who are towing the favorability line that Senator Brown's views are not good for the country. You might want to have a beer with the guy, but Elizabeth Warren's ideas are better for America. I also think a lot of voters who haven't yet started paying attention yet think Elizabeth Warren's personality is the same as Martha Coakley's (she ran against Senator Brown last time). I say this because, truth be told, Elizabeth Warren would be a cool person to have a beer with, too.

I have never been a part of a campaign that has assembled so many volunteers so early in the race. I have also never seen a group of volunteers so eager to do something and so angry that there really isn't anything to do, yet.

Strong Elizabeth Warren supporters should be resting up. Because come this summer, we're going to be speaking 24/7 to anyone who will listen (and even those who won't), explaining to them that Elizabeth Warren is a brilliant success story who has already successfully created policies that are in the best interests of us all. The more they hear, the more voters will be persuaded that liking Scott Brown is just not good enough.