Larry Sabato joined the post-Massachusetts doom and gloom chorus yesterday. I'm not convinced--I still think it's primarily Coakley's fault.
But amidst Sabato's rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, which was clearly written before the damn solid State of the Union, I found a silver lining:
As for the Obama coalition, only the liberal wing held fairly firm for Coakley. While she ran 15 percentage points worse than Obama statewide, Coakley was down only 3 or 4 points in leftish academic centers such as Amherst and Cambridge and the gay-friendly resort town of Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod.
Gay-friendly leftish academic centers... pretty much describes my own People's Republic of Johnson County. The very week of the Massachusetts Massacree, we were declared the third gayest city in America.
One of the things the Advocate gave us points for was our out local elected officials, a barrier we first broke a dozen years ago. And on the very day of the Massachusetts election, we added one more to the list, with voters strongly backing Janelle Rettig (who was already in office by appointment).
More to Sabato's point, the special election saw Rettig polling close to Obama's percentages in the urban parts of the county. True, Republican Lori Cardella won big in the rural area, but as I said before the rurals treated the special as a purely local election. In town, they voted partisan. Which bodes well for Chet Culver, Dave Loebsack and the Senate nominee.
Chet Culver pulled 68% here in 2006, a record that Obama broke with just short of 70. But percentages aren't what matters this fall--it's sheer numbers. Johnson County's job is to overcome big GOP wins in the northwest corner of the state. Culver took a 17,000 lead over Jim Nussle in Johnson County, better than Tom Vilsack's 12k win over Doug Gross in `02.
Good turnout at the State of the Union Party -- over 50 mostly young people in downtown Iowa City just to watch the speech on TV with no bigshot attending in person -- bodes well. The question, as always with Dems these days, is how to translate that personal like for Obama (who is still PERSONALLY more popular than party of perceived policy) into votes for other Democrats.