BOSTON, NOV. 1, 2010….As candidates prepared to the hand the reins of their campaigns over to the voters on Tuesday, Gov. Deval Patrick and his fellow Democrats dismissed the notion that their party was suffering from an "enthusiasm gap" among core voters that could send the governor and others packing.
In one of the final rallies of his re-election bid, Patrick took the stage early Monday evening before several hundred supporters at Adams Park in Roslindale to urge voters to go to the polls on Tuesday and bring their friends, family, co-workers and neighbors with them.
"You are a beautiful site," Patrick told the cheering crowd, comprised in large part by organized labor groups.
Democrats anticipate that they are going to need their supporters to go to the polls in droves for Tuesday's election if they hope to overcome the rise of anti-incumbent sentiment sweeping the electorate nationwide. In Massachusetts, Patrick said he senses little of the letdown that has been prognosticated in the lead up to the election.
Asked about the enthusiasm gap, Patrick made a circle with his fingers: "Zero," he said.
"It's now about get-out-the-vote strategy, and that would be impossible if we didn't have this level of enthusiasm, just regular voters who want to come out and vote for and encourage a positive and effective strategy for growing the Commonwealth," Patrick said, noting thousands of volunteers and captains set in every precinct in the state.
The rally in the park drew nearly the entire slate of statewide candidates on the Democratic ballot this November, with auditor candidate Suzanne Bump, treasurer candidate Steven Grossman, Attorney General Martha Coakley and Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral all working to stoke voter enthusiasm.
"We can't win tomorrow unless you help us get out the vote," Coakley said.
U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, the only members of the state's Congressional delegation without an opponent this cycle, told the crowd, "We're not going away."
"This whole enthusiasm gap that they have, you're right. They have more crazy people on their side than we do," Capuano said. "We have a few, but they've got more. What do we have? We have people with heart who care about their fellow human beings, people who care about working people having jobs, people who care about other people keeping their homes, getting health care and educating their kids. Now if that makes me a bad guy, so be it."
Democrats hold a nearly four-to-one registration advantage over Republicans in Massachusetts, but almost 52 percent of the electorate is unenrolled.
Secretary of State William Galvin on Monday predicted turnout Tuesday may surpass the record for a non-presidential election set in 1990, when voters opened up a 16-year run for Republicans in the Corner Office by electing William Weld over Democrat John Silber.
Patrick and others also said that voters have a clear choice between the governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker, who has ripped job losses under Patrick's watch and claimed the Milton Democrat plans to raise taxes again if reelected to address state spending levels.
Noting the unexpected impact the national recession had on his first term in office, Patrick defended the "choices" he made to invest in education and targeted industries to grow jobs.
"We didn't cut and run like a whole bunch of folks who had this job before," Patrick said.
Stealing a theme from Baker's campaign, Patrick said he's "had enough" of Baker's "Big Dig management" and campaign rhetoric that paints Massachusetts in a negative light.
"I'm here to tell you as someone who has lived the American Dream, it is worth fighting for. That is what we're fighting for," Patrick said.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino accused Baker of pursuing a "slash and burn" agenda that would hurt working class Bostonians.
"He probably has to have a GPS system to find the neighborhoods of Boston," Menino said.
Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, predicted victory for Patrick and other Democrats running for statewide office on Tuesday, calling the perceived lack of enthusiasm "baloney."
"Are people a little down about the economy? Of course they are. Are they a little nervous about their future and insecure? Of course they are. But they're not trading in this guy for a bad future. Not for someone who wants to cut 5,000 people as his first order of business and put more people on the unemployment line," Haynes told the News Service, comparing Patrick with Baker.
While Patrick was rallying in Boston, Baker was preparing for his final rally of his campaign later Tuesday night in his hometown of Swampscott.
Patrick, Baker and Treasurer Tim Cahill, an independent candidate for governor, all spent Monday crisscrossing the state in a last minute effort to sway undecided voters and make certain that those who have made up their mind show to vote.