With more than a year of campaigning behind her and millions of dollars raised and spent, Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren arrives at Election Day the cautious front-runner in Massachusetts’ hotly contested U.S. Senate race.
Pointing to Warren’s mounting momentum and her campaign’s superior ground game, Democratic and Republican political strategists said the race is Warren’s to lose as popular incumbent U.S. Senator Scott Brown runs out of time to change voters’ minds.
“Elizabeth Warren goes into Tuesday having been in the lead or tied in virtually every public poll with the exception of one or two [in recent weeks],” Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh said, calling Warren the “prohibitive favorite.”
“I think Brown supporters are just as enthusiastic as Warren supporters, but she has the advantage of the party and union machinery, giving her an organizational edge,” said Republican strategist Todd Domke of Brown’s chances.
Warren has built on that advantage with an impressive grassroots organization of her own. Warren’s press secretary Alethea Harney said campaign volunteers knocked on over 200,000 doors last weekend and made 600,000 phone calls. Harney said she expects 20,000 Warren volunteers will be deployed Tuesday to get voters to the polls.
Brown’s own “get out the vote” effort is expected to be the most extensive ever put in place by a Massachusetts Republican, Massachusetts Republican Party spokesperson Tim Buckley told The Springfield Republican.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin predicted that between 3.1 and 3.2 million voters will go to the polls statewide. If achieved, that total would be the highest in state history, and likely give Warren enough of an advantage to secure victory in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans three-to-one, Marsh said.
Brown, who was swept into office on a wave of Tea Party energy two years ago, has not been able to replicate the excitement and support his candidacy generated in the 2010 special election, Domke said. In a state as blue as Massachusetts, Republicans are rarely re-elected to statewide office.
“What’s needed is not just for the Republican to be popular and run a good campaign, but what he needs is a weak Democratic opponent who runs a weak campaign,” Domke said. “And Warren has been a strong opponent, and they’ve run a good campaign.”
Brown’s vote tallies will also likely be hurt by Democratic President Barack Obama’s popularity. Assuming Obama wins Massachusetts by 20 points or more, Brown will have to win over a significant number of those Obama supporters, Republican strategist Rob Gray said.
“To win he’s got to get certainly above 60 percent of unenrolled voters—probably above 62 percent—and he’s got to get one in five Democrats voting for him or better,” Gray said.
Brown’s best chance may be Massachusetts voters’ hesitance to elect women to statewide office, Marsh said.
“Most Democrats would be walking away with this, but the fact is...Massachusetts simply does not elect women to higher office,” Marsh said. If elected, Warren would become the first female U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.
Regardless of who comes out ahead, Marsh and others said they expect the margin to be close.
Early on in the race, polls indicated that Warren and Brown were neck-and-neck. Warren’s candidacy appeared to be floundering in early September, but analysts said Warren’s strong debate performances in September and October, coupled with key endorsements and improved advertising, pushed Warren into the lead.
—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.