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Massachusetts Election Results: What to Watch For

What Scott Brown needs to do to beat Martha Coakley.

12:22 PM, Jan 19, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Assuming that the Massachusetts election results page (update: see results here) doesn't crash due to a tremendous amount of traffic, what should one be looking for after the polls close at 8:00 p.m. and numbers begin pouring in? The Cook Political Report's election whiz David Wasserman writes in an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD:

1) Western Mass - Coakley needs a huge margin out of what I call the "Rachel Maddow Belt" - the Berkshires, where she has roots, and the Pioneer Valley. She probably needs a 5,000 vote lead out of Amherst and high turnout in places like Springfield, Pittsfield, and Northampton.

2) The I-495 Ring - This is Brown's bread and butter, and he needs to rack up big leads in towns like Haverhill, Dracut, Marlborough, and his home area near Wrentham and Foxborough. These are the places where Mitt Romney broke through to win the governorship in 2002.

3) The Cape and Southeastern Mass - The Kennedy belt. Barnstable and Plymouth Counties are presumably the places where Kennedy's memory ought to rescue Coakley in the eleventh hour. Brown will probably narrowly win the TOWNS of Plymouth and Barnstable, which are usually bellwethers. If Coakley carries either, she will probably be on her way to winning statewide. If Brown wins both with more than 55%, watch out.

4) The 8th CD - The heart of liberal Massachusetts needs to come out in a big way for Coakley if she is to have a shot. Cambridge should turn out dependably, but will the Boston machine crank out votes at the same rate as other places in the state? Will Capuano's voters be as enthusiastic about this race after they didn't get their man?

5) The Catholic south shore - Will working class Democrats stick with their party or defect to Brown? This is the key area to watch in that respect. Brown will probably win Braintree and Weymouth, but the town to watch is Quincy. If Coakley can't hold onto Quincy, she will probably lose.

6) The ethnic cities - Does Coakley get at least half of Obama's votes in each of Worcester, Fall River, New Bedford, Lowell, and Lawrence? These are places that will vote Democratic 2-to-1 or more, but where voters need lots of engagement to mobilize.

The Swing State Project also has a useful map that shows what to look for when the results come streaming in.

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