Here are some details of the Mass. Senate election, looking at county results. For a few weeks after the primary, the conventional wisdom was the Coakley would win easily by 10-20% with maybe a 30-40% turnout (primary turnout was 20%). A good, recent comparison election was the 2006 Governor’s race where Deval Patrick (D) won 55% to 35% against Kerry Healey (R), and indicates where a Democrat like Coakley needed to do well to win state-wide.
There are lot of pundits and pollsters (see links below) with opinions on why Brown won, like winning big with the unenrolled voters. My niche is to focus on the numbers. Those numbers show Coakley needed a higher turnout and a higher % of the vote in traditional Democratic strongholds to win.
Here are some county highlights and Below is a chart that highlights the differences in candidate performance and turnout in the 2010 and 2006 elections:
- Coakley got 47% of the vote state-wide.
- Coakley did best in Western Mass. counties like Berkshire (75%), Franklin (70%), and Hampshire (67%). She also did well in Suffolk (70%) which is mostly Boston.
- Coakley did worst in counties like Plymouth (35%), Worcester (38%), and Barnstable/Essex/Hampden/Bristol/Norfolk (42-44%)
- Coakley got 8 percentage points less of the state-wide vote than Patrick did in 2006 (47% vs. 55%). The biggest drops were in Worcester (-15%), Bristol (-14%), Hampden (-11%). The smallest drops were in Middlesex, Suffolk, and Barnstable (-4%).
- The state-wide turnout counts in 2006 vs. 2010 were very close. But there were fewer registered voters in 2006 (lots of new registrations in 2008), so the difference was -2.9% (53% in 2010 vs. 56% in 2006).
- The biggest drops in turnout in 2010 vs. 2006 were in the counties where Coakley did well, such as Berkshire (-5.6%), Franklin (-5.4%), Suffolk (-5.4%). The smallest drops in turnout were in counties where Brown did well, such as Norfolk (+0.5%), Plymouth (-1.0%), and Barnstable (-2.2%).
- The % turnout in 2010 also mirrored the results, where turnout was generally higher in counties where Brown did well.
- Turnout was highest in Barnstable (62%), Norfolk (61%), and Middlesex (58%).
- Turnout was lowest in Suffolk (41%), Hampden (45%), Berkshire (48%), and Bristol (48%).