Think Martha Coakley lost mainly because of President Obama, the national Democratic position, and health care? Think again.
The following four charts measure trendlines since December 31st for the Massachusetts Senate race, the popularity of health care reform, the national congressional ballot, and President Obama's job approval. What they show is that Martha Coakley trended sharply downward during a time when opinions about the health care bill and the 2010 congressioanl vote were static, and job approval of President Obama was on the rise:
President Obama, job approval trend since December 31st
National Congressional Ballot, trend since December 31st
(Note: My numbers show a slightly better position for Democrats because I include Daily Kos polls)
Health care plan, favor / oppose trend since December 31st
Massachusetts Senate race, trend since December 31st
Martha Coakley went from a 13% lead to a 5% deficit since December 31st, for a swing of 18%. During that exact same time period, national approval of the health care bill stayed exactly the same, the national congressional ballot stayed exactly the same, and President Obama saw a 2% upswing in his approval rating.
The national political environment is worse for Democrats than it was in 2008. As I pointed out last night, the generic congressional ballot shows a 9% swing toward Republicans since Election Day, 2008. However, Martha Coakley's campaign dropped 18% independent of this trend.
There is a lot of blame to go around. However, the available evidence shows that the bulk of it rests on the candidate and the campaign. On that front, it is also worth considering the relative difference between the Scott Brown and Martha Coakley campaigns. That is, Coakley could have been slightly below average rather than terrible, while Scott Brown--and the conservative organizing behind him--might have been fantastic.