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January 18th, 2010
02:02 PM ET

Swing voters will decide Kennedy seat

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is a senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the forthcoming "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

 John Avlon says the too-close-to-call Massachusetts race is hinging on the choice made by independent voters.
John Avlon says the too-close-to-call Massachusetts race is hinging on the choice made by independent voters.

By John Avlon, Special to CNN

(CNN) - On Tuesday, the eyes of the political world will be turned to Massachusetts where an unexpectedly close special election is being held to determine who will succeed Ted Kennedy in the Senate.

Conventional wisdom labels Massachusetts a liberal bastion, but this stereotype misses the mark. In fact, there are more independents in Massachusetts than Democrats or Republicans.

Take a look at the numbers: There are roughly 2.1 million independent voters in Massachusetts, 1.5 million Democrats, and 500,000 Republicans. Yes, Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the Bay State - especially in Boston - but there are more independents than Democrats and Republicans combined.

This is the key to understanding why the race between Republican State Sen. Scott Brown and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat, is so close. It reflects a broader dynamic occurring in American politics: Independents are the largest and fastest growing segment of the electorate.

There are now 11 states like Massachusetts, where independents outnumber Democrats or Republicans outright. Winning independents is the key to winning any election - and right now, independents are angry at the Democrat-controlled congress.

Keep reading this story »

Filed under: Opinion • Politics
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Dave S.

    Senator Brown had better understand who put him in the Senate seat. It was not Republicans but Independents. If he thinks that he can now join the party of NO; then he will probably be replaced next time around.

    January 21, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  2. Wayne M. Hall

    Has a larger message been missed here? The "independent" majority in Massachusetts! People are fed up with "party politics", and the good ole boy network in Washington DC. The two party system is broken and needs to be abolished. If our representatives and senators in Congress can't stand on their own two feet concerning the matters that deal with our nation as individuals, then they have no business being there.

    I too am registered as an "independent".

    January 21, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  3. sandra ford

    I am a democrat from mass.which i am not very proud of right now.I am so disappointed in the people of mass.Sen. Ted Kennedy must be turning over in his grave.He was a very strong man who fought for the state of mass.and the peolpe just did not care.He wanted this bill to pass so that all people could have insurance and his own state let him down...brown cansay what he wants but that seat will always belong to a democrat..Like the saying goes out of sight out of mind and that'"s what the people of mass did.

    I submittted this second comment because i am not sure the first one went through.

    January 20, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  4. Ann

    Why would MCCain and his buddies sit in Congress and grunt and say no for a full year without saying or doing anything positive for their country/state.Don't be fooled by a new Republicans that has no one goal and one vision to get even at all cost to be a thorn in Obama's side for beating an old washed up post traumatic MCCain that has done nothing to improve the lives of Veterans.The Veterans thought ,MCCain would get them housing,medical care and mental health and education to improve their lives.In some areas ,Americans whine too much about our leader and in their local community they don't extend a hand to protect the children and elders in the community.I made a call and it was over 45 mins.response from West Covina,ca. and the same local council members rotate the seats for power with no impact change except on the easat side of the city.We must get involved in our schools and local level and stop using Obama 's name to change your community.

    January 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  5. Jim Lawrence

    The american people are sick and tired of politics!! In th beginning this country was run by statesmen, real men with real ideas, men that had the countrys interest at heart. Now america is controlled by politicians and lawyers who are controlled by lobbyist who are paid by big corporations such as the pharmaceutical industry and countrys such as Isreal to do its bidding and all at the expience of the american citizen. There is a revolt going on in this country. We want our country back, republicans and democrates and independents alike!!!

    January 20, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  6. Bob Himell

    Nice try but not one single Republican voted for health care so why do you think the new Mass Republican will change suit and do the right thing. Until the politicians feel the same pain we do, its politics as usual and guess who loses, "We the People" thanks to our representative government that is so out of touch with the constituents back home. Americans, wake up and join together before it is too late.

    January 19, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  7. wanda thornbrough

    I think the folks in Mas. have had enough of the Kennedys Kennedy fatigue...I know I have.

    January 19, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
  8. mary, mary, mary

    Lets hope the health reform passes. Why do they need 60 votes to pass, thats way over half. Why not change it to 52 votes to get the bill through. The Republicans have no shame. Go online and look who donates to the Republican party. Do the American people enjoy suffering? Theres no other explanation for voting Republican. They're like the Mad Tea Party in Wonderland. The US is a 3rd world country when it comes to healthcare because some Americans fear the word socialist. But the fact that their own children are much less healthy and in far more danger children in Britain, France, Canada and other so called socialist countries doesn't scare them. Maybe it they don't even realize that.

    January 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  9. David Crew

    To me it does not matter who wins, but bottom line is we need heathcare for ALL!!!!! and the people in DC need to get there head out of the sand..and pass heathcare no matter who win's..


    January 19, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  10. Joan

    It is interesting to watch the media coverage of this race. A lot of coverage was given to Brown's campaign, the " so called anger" in the state and how he was creeping up in the polls. Not really mentioned was how he will stonewall health care for the little guy, how he would continue Republican policies that got your country in trouble in the first place and the huge influence that the teabaggers and wealthy Republicans from out of state have had on this. Also not mentioned until just today was an early magazine spread of Brown nude. Now if Sen. Coakley had posed nude for a magazine in her twenties, you can bet the other "righteous" campaign would have used it extensively. This just shows the difference in the campaigns. The media did not show balanced reporting in this race but it makes for juicier stories if it is a cliffhanger. Trying to tilt the race in favour of one candidate is not fair.

    January 19, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  11. Heather

    Scott Brown scares the CRAP out of me!!!

    He says he is all about the issues and running a "clean" campaign but I checked out one of his social networking pages and it has a big photo of Mary-Jo Kopechne's gravestone on the front page.... What kind of hateful person does that??

    January 19, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  12. Lynne

    I just saw Kira coverage of the MA election; she showed a picture of Scott Brown posing for Playgirl in the 80's and asked if there was a double standard going on.

    There is a double standard going on but it is not in Brown's favor. Coakley said, with reference to her foreign policy experience "I have a sister who lives in London and I like to travel"! Oh how Sarah Palin was skewered for "I can see Russia" but note there is not a peep about this gaff. If you think Sarah Palin is stupid, surely you will put Martha Coakley on the shelf right next to her.

    The most distressing issue is that this is called non-partisan news. Wake up please and see what you are doing. Wake up and see how soft you are on Dems – it is not to their advantage in the least; it presumes favoritism, and takes away your credibility.

    January 19, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  13. Larry Patraw

    Thank you massachusetts for taking Obama of his high horse !
    I am keeping my fingers crossed.

    January 19, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  14. Richard, Kankakee, IL.

    It's funny how the Republicans used Reconciliation time after time after time, while Dick "Evil Eye Cheney" had the gable in his greasy little hands in Congress to ensure that everything they wanted passed and hurt American People. And now they say that the Democrats are forcing thing down their throats when they have not!

    The American People memory has really degrading over the past 8.5 years to the point that it only last about 6 month. I guess all of that sodium-fluoride in the water had done the rick of dumbing you all down, you do know that is the same thing that rat poison is made up of!

    And now the American People blame the Democrats for every ill that the Republicans did to them. Can you say brainwashed! Since the American people like suffering let them suffer some more until they are crying at night for being so dumb to have fallen for the same Republican carny game again!

    Stop repeating the same mistake of the past!

    January 19, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  15. Carole Alteon

    The people in Massachussetts cannot base their vote on President Obama's record. Tomorrow will be a year since he took office, on January 20th, 2009. How can you fix 8 years of problems, or more just within a year. who ever thinks like is very unfair. Thank you

    January 19, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  16. Richard, Kankakee, IL.

    Health-Care died when the Democrats were divided on a single payer Health-Care system, then the Republicans made them waste 8 months on just financing Health-Care, and now the public has been tricked again into believing that they do not need reform. So I had better not hear one more person crying that they lost their Health-Care next year. lose their home , lose their cars and or their life-savings, when cost go up 50% again. The Republicans will get their kick backs, they got the war expanded, and now the people will lose far more jobs as companies downsize even more to justify not paying the employees for working so hard for them for years!

    How many time will the American People allow the Rich and Elites to decide that they are not worthy of having good health-Care that is affordable, why are we paying all of these taxes for it not to help out own people first, since it is our money! The Rich and the Elites think that everyone else in our country is lazy, and the American people fell for that lie again!

    January 19, 2010 at 9:23 am |
  17. bulldog

    Mitchell you must a republican jonathan you are right on the mark do away with parties and he/she with the most votes win!! period !!!!!

    January 19, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  18. Roman, Butler, Pa

    Good morning guys.

    One Lion passes away, yet another Lion is born to His rightful inheritance. And, I am not talking about the republican candidate.

    Let the Democrats understand; take nothing for granted, Coakley did. But, let Me also remind Republicans that you are not in charge. After what you did to this country under Bush/Cheney, I have yet to hear how sorry you are for destroying so many lives and leading astray so many good people.

    The Democrats must understand that Life is precious. That one must except their own responsibility to their own actions. Get someone pregnant you must honor that life. At the same time, though, if a mother's life is threaten because of medical complications, and if a decision to abort that life is made to save the mother, or if the mother aborts her life to save that child, there is no wrong in either. But, honor the life that was sacrificed to save the other.

    The Republicans must understand the weight of Justice is on them. For it was their party that brought this misery to so many families. And, if you think that stopping health care for Americans is the way to gain more seats, you will be dead wrong. For as I am, you will not be. For too long the elite in your party has done everything it can to stop affordable quality health insurance to less fortunate. I will not stand for this no more.

    Hear My words for they are the Spirit of Truth. Humble yourselves before God, for His Son, the Lion of Judah will roar with such greatness that you will fall in His glory.

    January 19, 2010 at 7:57 am |

    Great Peace/Piece: It is a JUNGLE Out There + to Get Through It in Order to Survive.

    Jonathan Lewis Once Said; "And for the Health Care Bill, Make a Compromise!" Great Advice!

    But; Compromise + Obstinacy Do Not Mean the Same Thing. 'PCP"–
    "Positive Constructive Participation" is Proof of There's an Acronym for Everything, "AFE."

    President Obama May Forced to Take a Stronger Role in Order to Accomplish His Campaign Mandates.

    This Squabbling in Congress Seems t Be Sour Grapes over 2008 Election Results, STILL? It Hasn't Been a Year Yet.

    This Squabbling Needs to Be Tempered by Fighting in the Ring as Opposed to Fighting in the Strrets!

    January 19, 2010 at 7:51 am |
  20. Jonathan Lewis

    Has anyone ever learned about what George Washington warned us in his farewell address. Avoid political parties. Today, this could be relevant to us. Get rid of our political parties. And for the health care bill, make a compromise. Just like the compromise for the making of the constitution to make everyone's opinion happy.

    January 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
  21. Mitchell

    Ah "change you can believe in"....only if the change you want includes a bankrupt and socolist america complements of the democrats.

    January 18, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  22. Herschel McMillan

    I was setting here tonight thinking about this senate race between Martha Coakley and Scott Brown. If the democrats are needing her vote to reach the 60 for anti filibuster in the senate, where have they been getting the 60th vote until now. Kennedy passed away some time ago, but is his vote still counting?????? Just wondering what is happening in this great country of ours.

    January 18, 2010 at 8:33 pm |