Women, Big Democratic Turnout Key Warren Win

Nov 7, 2012

Elizabeth Warren is going to be the first woman from Massachusetts to serve in the United States Senate.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill looks at Warren’s historic victory in Tuesday’s election.

The outcome of Tuesday’s closely watched, highly competitive election for US Senate in Massachusetts was not surprising, but was none the less improbable.  When the campaign began,  Warren was a relatively obscure, first time candidate, according to Tim Vercellotti, the director of the Western New England University Polling Institute.

Republican incumbent Senator Scott Brown, who had pulled off a major upset when he won the 2010 special election following the death of  Senator Edward Kennedy was popular with high job approval ratings.  He had a common man, nice guy image, but as an incumbent he also had a voting record.  Over the course of the campaign Warren was able to highlight that record to her advantage , according to  Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman John Walsh.

Exit polls showed women voted for Warren over Brown by about a 20 point margin. Tricia Wajda, the director of public affairs for the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts said women’s health issues played a defining role in the election.

In the 2010 special election, nearly half the union households in Massachusetts voted for Brown. Massachusetts AFL-CIO president Steve Tolman said labor leaders worked to convince their members that Brown had not represented their interests since going to Washington.

Nearly 1.2 million more votes were cast Tuesday than in the 2010 special election. Much of that increased turnout was in traditionally Democratic areas such as Springfield and Boston, according to Doug Rubin, a senior advisor to the Warren campaign.

The ground game  consisted of 20,000 volunteers who since June had knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors across the state and made millions of phone calls to identify Warren supporters. It culminated with a get out the vote effort Tuesday that State Senator Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield described as unprecedented.

                The two senate campaigns spent a total of $70 million dollars, a record for a political campaign in Massachusetts. 

Warren and Brown, last spring, signed a pledge to keep third party advertising out the campaign.  To the surprise of many, the pledge held.