MA-Sen: 66 to 19

January 19, 2010 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

BOSTON — That, via Alex Isenstadt and Josh Kraushaar, is the number that defined the Massachusetts Senate race more than anything else. From the primary through last Sunday, Scott Brown held 66 events of varying size. Coakley held 19.

Typically, a front-running campaign might hold fewer events to minimize the snafus that might occur and affect the race. The incredible thing about Coakley’s verbal and visual stumbles is that none occurred while stumping in Massachusetts. Her (perhaps unfairly mangled) “no terrorists in Afghanistan” malapropism happened during the final debate. Her gaffe about preferring to meet local politicians than to “stand outside of Fenway, shaking hands, in the cold” was made in a Boston Globe interview. When she left the trail last week for a Washington, D.C., fundraiser — one of the most baffling campaign decisions I’ve ever seen — she got negative storylines about lobbyist ties and the accidental knock-down of a conservative reporter. And her stumbles about whether “devout Catholics” could work in emergency rooms and who Curt Schilling was both happened in radio interviews.

In retrospect, Coakley had plenty to gain by working the campaign trail. By avoiding it for weeks, she created a massive opening for Scott Brown.