Brown-Warren Race: Calculating A Win In Worcester County

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If there’s one piece of geography Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown needs, and needs big Tuesday, it's Worcester County.

In the 2010 special U.S. Senate election against Democrat Martha Coakley, Brown won all 61 communities there except for the city of Worcester and the town of Harvard.

It’s why both Brown and his current Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, stopped in Worcester County this weekend. Whether the crowd realized it or not, a local politician whipped up a Brown rally in downtown Worcester with a little campaign soothsaying.

“We will do well in Worcester County,” she shouted to 750 people in the audience — fist pumping the air — and then added, “but we must overwhelm in Worcester County.”

Warren knows that, which is why earlier in the day she rallied a crowd about half the size of Brown’s next door in the town of Auburn. As we walked around the parking lot of the union hall, it became clear the crowd was almost exclusively union people — teachers, teamsters and others — important to Warren because while Brown is counting on enthusiasm to get his supporters to polls Tuesday, Warren is counting on organization.

In fact, the head of the AFL-CIO in Worcester County told me that on Saturday, hundreds of union members fanned out to knock on the doors of every union household in the city of Worcester and in a couple of surrounding towns. He said they’ll do the same thing Tuesday.

A couple of months ago, Worcester U.S. Rep. James McGovern was worried whether the Warren campaign was up to the task of challenging Brown in Worcester County. McGovern himself stepped in to help organize Warren.

McGovern, the realist, is not predicting Warren will take Worcester County on Tuesday. But at the rally this weekend, he did say to us that Worcester — the city — will come out big for Warren, and that Warren will cut the margin of Brown’s wins in the other central Massachusetts communities that went for him in 2010.

The congressman’s Worcester County political calculus is this: keeping Brown in check in Worcester County gives Warren a better chance to beat Brown statewide.

New voter registration numbers show the opportunities and the challenges for both campaigns. In Massachusetts registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1.

But statewide in the past two months, Democrats newly registering to vote outnumbered Republicans by a 5-1 margin. That's conceivably good news for Elizabeth Warren.

But almost 100,000 people were recently newly registered as unenrolled. Those are the people Brown is banking on Tuesday.

This article was originally published on November 05, 2012.

This program aired on November 5, 2012.

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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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