In the January 2010 special election in Massachusetts to fill the Senate vacancy after the death of Edward Kennedy, Scott Brown, the Republican, defeated Democrat Martha Coakley. While all the hoopla is about whether the Bay State has turned red, purple, or mauve and/or whether health-care legislation is now dead, I am more interested in today’s number (not) in the news, 655,781.
The final results show that 2,226,789 votes were cast for those two candidates. Brown won 52 percent of the vote, or 1,168,107. Coakley won 47 percent of the vote or 1,058,682.
The total number of votes cast for the two major party candidates in the 2010 special election is close to the total number of votes cast for the two major party candidates in the November 2006 Senate election (2,155,678) where Democart Edward Kennedy defeated Republican Ken Chase by a vote total of 1,497,304 to 658,374.
While it is interesting to note that in a span of a little over three years, 438,622 less people voted for the Democratic Senate candidate (Kennedy’s 1,497,304 versus Coakley’s 1,058,682) and the GOP picked up 509,737 voters (Brown’s 1,168,107 versus Chase’s 658,374), I mention the 2006 vote tally because I wanted to point out that even though 2010 contest was a special election (which typically draws fewer voters), it drew three percent more voters than the 2006 regular election.
What I am truly interested in is comparing the numbers between the 2010 and the 2008 regular Senate election. According to those results, 2,882,570 votes were cast for the two major party candidates (Democrat John Kerry won 1,959,843 and Republican Jeff Beatty won 922,727).
Doing the math, this means that in the fourteen months between the 2008 election and the 2010 election, 655,781 (there’s that number of the day) fewer people voted.
If the 2008 election saw an increase in voters because people were drawn to Barack Obama and his message of change, then what does it say when 655,781 people simply decided not to vote again even when the stakes were so high for the President that he peronsally stumped for the Democratic candidate?
More importantly, what does it say when 22 percent of the people who voted in 2008 because (perhaps) they felt energized and enthused by the message of change from the Senator from Illinois decide, 14 months later, that they can’t be bothered to show up and vote?
Perhaps, it says, that the people are tired.