Massachusetts Dems confident going into Tuesday's Senate election
Overconfident, perhaps? While all the polls show Democratic Rep. Ed Markey with a 4-8 point lead over GOP challenger Gabriel Gomez, this is a special election where turnout is going to be less than 25%. This will negate the huge registration advantage of the Democrats and will probably make this a more competitive race than many analysts think.
If Democrats think the race is in the bag and stay home, Gomez has a chance for a big upset. But given the lessons learned by Democrats in the 2010 special election when Republican Scott Brown won a huge upset over Elizabeth Coakley, it is likely they will redouble their efforts to turn out enough of their base to win.
"In Massachusetts, we do win more elections than the bad guys, but there's a lot of them that are close. It's not a gimme," Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh told The Hill.
"The real question is, who's going to remember to vote? And that's really what we're focused on."
Confidence among Democrats in Markey's chances soared late last week after a Boston Herald poll showed the longtime congressman with a 20-point lead over Gomez, a first-time GOP candidate.
Republicans touted a Republican poll that showed Gomez within 3 points, but no independent survey during the campaign showed him that close to Markey.
Any temptation among Democrats to pop the cork is being tempered by painful memories of the 2010 special Senate election, when Republican Scott Brown won the seat held for decades by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Democrats believe a superior ground game will seal the deal.
Markey launched a new ad late last week reminding voters to head to the polls on Tuesday, while Walsh and other Democratic officials have spread out across the state in an effort to turn out the party's base on Election Day.
They're being joined by a host of unions and liberal outside groups like the League of Conservation Voters.
GOP activists acknowledge they lack the sophisticated voter turnout infrastructure that Democrats have built in the state over the years.
"Fighting against the status quo is never easy. It's always an uphill battle, but we've made progress on our ground game," said Massachusetts Republican Party Spokesman Tim Buckley.
"Obviously in such a condensed timeframe you don't really have the ability to deliver the ground game to the same extent as a typical election."
The GOP doesn't sound very confident, nor should they be. The Dems have rolled out the heavy hitters in the party with President Obama, former President Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden all visiting the state in the last 10 days. There was no last minute infusion of money for Gomez from outside groups which tells you that there is a general feeling among national Republicans that Gomez doesn't have much of a chance.
Still, Gomez is an attractive, hard working candidate. Win or lose, he's given it his best - which is all anyone in the Republican party hoped.