You would have to be a complete loser to not be able to hold on to the democratic senate seat held for the past half century by the late Ted Kennedy in liberal Massachusetts. Turns out, all you had to be was Martha Coakley. Nothing against Scott Brown, who proved to be an astute politician, tapping into a disgruntled blue-state electorate with the right message at the right time, but the odds were against being the first Republican to be elected as a Senator from Massachusetts since 1972. The election of Brown was fueled by an electorate that is disillusioned by the direction that the country is taking at the helm of our Democratic leaders in Washington. While the prior Republican Administration has been rightly blamed for the policies, deregulation, actions, and positions that created our current economic turmoil, the current Democratic Administration now owns the problem, as usually happens when you take over in the middle of a mess. The current leaders in Washington have been in charge for a year now, and they have not engendered confidence and support for their agenda of “change”. Against that backdrop, Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley faced a restless electorate, and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Hers was one of the most listless, uninspiring, and misguided campaigns that I have had the displeasure of watching. Martha Coakley, the Attorney General, clearly showed that she has very limited political skills. Hers was a botched campaign of massive proportions, a complete and utter failure to read the political landscape, the will of the people, and to energize an overwhelmingly democratic electorate that were still prepared to hold their noses and vote for her if she could have even showed one ounce of personality, one iota of a spark, one tiny inkling of political leadership. She, however, showed nothing. Even a glimmer of personality would have shown she could interact on an inter-personal level with the other Senators in Washington, and represent us adequately in Congress. She couldn’t figure out that the youthful, dynamic, vibrant and personable Scott Brown could beat her during this time of disillusionment with government, so she spent the Holidays with her family. No need to run a campaign.
My point being that politics and personality are inextricably mixed, and that even in one of the most liberal states in the nation, a democratic candidate with the personality of a Martha Coakley could lose a Senate seat held by her party for almost fifty years.
From a business perspective, this, once again, is proof positive that we are in unchartered waters. People are not confident in the path we are travelling, so they are holding back, whether it be from consumer purchases, investments, or on the institutional side, banks are holding onto, rather than lending money. Taken together, these factors are more evidence of the point that I have made in many previous posts that we are nowhere nearly out of the recession woods yet, and that for the majority of the populace these remain treacherously difficult times. From difficulty, we must, however, make opportunity, and to me it looks like 2010 will continue to present us with investment opportunities in the distressed asset marketplace.