Note: Neil Newhouse is proud to have served as the pollster for the Brown for Senate campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee in this race.
The Scott Brown victory was indeed the perfect storm – a terrific and engaging candidate, a tremendous campaign team, an issue environment that was strongly tilted away from the national Democrats, an abbreviated campaign timetable, and a somewhat disengaged opponent.
In addition to the #1 factor, which is Scott himself and his ability to connect with voters, following is the full list of twelve keys to Scott Brown’s victory:
1. Scott Brown.
This was his victory. Simply put, a terrific candidate. Never underestimate the impact of an articulate candidate with a compelling message.
2. The truck.
Scott’s pick-up truck and the ad showing him driving it around the state helped give depth to the image of him as a “regular guy” as well as reinforced the fact that he was actually out there campaigning, asking people for their support.
3. Coakley’s ill-timed vacation.
Nailing into voters’ minds the thought that Coakley believed she had the race wrapped up, she went on vacation in December. Voters noticed and later told us they believed she intended “to back into the seat.”
4. Not “Kennedy’s seat.”
This “Nashua moment,” courtesy of David Gergen at the January 11 debate, became a rallying cry for Scott and his supporters and helped frame the election as between the political insiders and the people, which was only exacerbated over the final days as Martha Coakley brought in name Democrats to provide her a lifeline.
5. Coakley’s negative advertising/Scott Brown’s response.
Anticipating a negative onslaught from the Coakley campaign, Scott’s internal ad team (hats off to Eric Fehrnstrom) cut a perfect Brown response ad aimed at Coakley for turning to a negative campaign. So, whose image changed after the negative ad and rebuttal went on the air? Coakley’s. It took just three days for her image to fall from +24 to “one-to-one.”
6. Brown’s Intensity Advantage.
Over the last ten days of this race Massachusetts voters fell hard for Scott Brown. His “very favorable” image increased ten points over the last week or so of the campaign, while Coakley’s image intensity was flat-lining.
7. Independent women.
These voters were a tough sell for Scott Brown, supporting Coakley by ten points just ten days ago. But all that changed after the January 11th debate and subsequent negative Coakley advertising onslaught, as these voters went into the final days giving Scott a two-to-one advantage.
8. DC Fundraiser?
Seriously, Martha Coakley’s image was already imploding after the January 11th debate and the launch of the negative advertising, and yet the decision is made to send her to DC on January 13th for a PAC fundraiser? With health care lobbyists? Where she watches as an aide pushes down a reporter trying to ask a question?
9. “Bloody sock.”
Curt Schilling a Yankee fan? Good joke. This, coupled with her tone-deaf shot at Scott for his grassroots campaigning at the New Year’s Day Bruins game at Fenway Park reinforced her elitist image.
10. Ayla and Arianna.
The two Brown daughters were stars in the campaign in helping get Scott’s message across and in deflating the over the top negative attacks against Scott. Ayla’s recorded phone calls were mentioned by voters as helping convince them to support Scott.
This is one for the record books. The daily totals were staggering. And, the campaign clearly understood the nexus between Scott’s visibility on conservative-tilted national news programs and the ability to raise money on-line.
With Republicans completely out of power, Scott’s on-line success suggests that the huge Democratic advantage on-line can be overcome by an energized national conservative base.
12. The Brown Team
There was an amazing combination of political expertise brought together for this abbreviated race. For a state so bereft of GOP officeholders, it’s a gold mine of political talent. It was a seamless and self-less effort made possible by the NRSC and Mitt Romney’s on-the-ground team that made the difference here.