Warren turnout machine sweeps away Brown

She wins with women, Dems, and new voters

SCOTT BROWN HANDED OFF ownership of the People’s Seat, stepped off the Park Plaza stage, and tried to explain to a crush of reporters how he’d just lost hold of the Senate seat he’d seized less than three years before. He didn’t have much of an answer. It was a numbers game, he said repeatedly. And on Tuesday night, he said, the numbers just weren’t with him.

Brown toppled Martha Coakley and seized Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat in January 2010, by turning the state’s electoral map upside down. On this election night, against Elizabeth Warren, Brown’s map fell apart. He saw comfortable margins in the suburbs narrow, and he got routed in urban areas he once ran strongly in. He lost his hold on Democrats and saw women turn out in droves against him. Brown got drubbed by 8 points because Warren’s campaign turned out hundreds of thousands of new voters, and Brown barely got a sniff at any of them. It was a numbers game, as Brown said. And the numbers were universally ugly.

CommonWealth’s fall issue detailed the paths to victory for Warren and Brown. Warren’s game plan hinged on driving turnout in a presidential election year, and keeping new voters from splitting the ticket. Brown, who in 2010 made significant inroads in traditionally Democratic enclaves in and around the South Coast, Worcester, Lowell, and Springfield, just had to keep on winning votes where he’d won votes before. On Tuesday, Warren’s turnout machine swept Brown away.

Brown’s 2010 special election victory saw voter turnout roughly match the 2010 gubernatorial election. More than 880,000 additional voters cast votes in Tuesday’s presidential election. (At press time, returns for Rehoboth and Duxbury were not yet available.) Warren captured a whopping 70 percent of these new voters.

In town-by-town returns from Tuesday, Brown mostly held his ground, turning out supporters in slightly greater numbers than he had in the 2010 special election. Overall, he pulled in 23 percent more votes than he did in 2010. Warren, on the other hand, rode her wave of new voters to outpace Coakley’s 2010 tally by nearly 60 percent.

Brown looked like a formidable opponent because he had already demonstrated the ability to run well in Democratic strongholds. For instance, in 2010, he won working-class cities like Lowell, Fitchburg, and Revere, and he ran far more strongly than Republicans typically manage in and around Gateway Cities like Fall River, New Bedford, Holyoke, Springfield, and Worcester. Brown held his ground in these cities, but Warren turned out scores of new voters that overwhelmed Brown’s base.

As a result, Brown lost cities he’d once captured, and suffered blowout losses in cities he’d once managed to compete in. He went from winning Lowell by 5 points in 2010 to losing the city to Warren by 18 points. Revere, which Brown had won by 7 in 2010, handed him a 19-point loss. He’d stayed within 5 points of Coakley in Worcester, but lost the city to Warren by 24. His margins of defeat doubled in Fall River and New Bedford. Holyoke and Springfield, which Brown had lost to Coakley by 13 and 14 points, handed him 40- and 48-point losses this time around.

In all these cities, Brown turned out at least as many voters as he’d captured in 2010. Warren, however, was turning out thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands, of voters who didn’t show up in 2010. Warren turned out at least 10,000 more Democratic voters than Coakley in 11 cities. She turned out at least 5,000 more voters than Coakley in 26 cities; Brown managed to increase his vote total by that amount in just one, Boston — a city he lost by almost 120,000 votes.