How Brown won

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  January 22, 2010

I didn't see it coming, either; I would never have believed that turnout would exceed 50 percent on a miserable, wet day in January. But in retrospect, the strategy was all there right from the beginning, laid out in the announcement speech he made four months ago.

In that speech, Brown declared himself independent of "the special interests [and] the Beacon Hill establishment"; called himself "a political outsider . . . not part of the Beacon Hill insider club"; denounced "Washington politicians who think they know better than us what's good for Massachusetts"; promised not to take orders from "the Washington insiders, or from Harry Reid, or Deval Patrick"; and warned that "power concentrated in the hands of one political party, as it is here in Massachusetts, leads to bad government and poor decisions."

Brown diligently took that message across the state in his iconic pick-up truck, to towns and audiences that any seasoned pollster would declare a waste of time and gasoline. People said the same thing about Obama reaching out to twentysomethings and independents in Iowa.

And his message barely changed from that speech to the one he delivered in victory at the Park Plaza. Both included his signature line: "This Senate seat doesn't belong to any one person, or political party." It is the people's seat, as the projected backdrop behind him on the Park Plaza stage read. Meanwhile, over at the Sheraton, that lesson had not yet sunk in; people there were already talking about which Democrat will re-take the Senate seat when it comes back up for a vote in 2012.

To read the "Talking Politics" blog, go to David S. Bernstein can be reached at

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