Richard Ross has many friends.

I did another Facebook analysis of the other special election for Scott Brown’s old seat. The same caveats apply: this is a crude measure of support. It all depends on how much effort each candidate has put into their Facebook outreach, and the demographics of their supporters. But it does give us some insight into how much support they have and how well organized their campaign is.

Lets jump right to the numbers:

The only real story here is – look at how many friends Ross has. He outpaces both of this competitors combined – by 2-1. Either he has a ton more grass roots support – or he’s got a pretty aggressive Facebook program – or probably both. He’s been in politics for more than a decade so maybe its not so surprising.

What is surprising is how few fans Lida Harkins has. She’s an old hand at politics like Ross – but with 138 fans it just doesn’t look like it. She’s been dutifully posting on her Facebook page – so its not like the page is being ignored by the campaign. But its not getting much traction. If these were votes Harkins would be getting creamed.

Peter Smulowitz is doing pretty well for a new candidate – 411 friends is about right and shows he’s getting his message out.

This is a very white district ethnic diversity is not a story for any of these candidates. And all the candidates seem well balanced by age and sex. Harkins sqews slightly female as expected.

My own sense is that Smulowitz is drawing more support than Harkins among Democrats. He is young, charismatic and super smart. He’s got a very detailed message about healthcare. Healthcare reform is a big issue and Smulowitz is easily the most well informed candidate on that issue. Harkins is a relatively moderate Democrat – and Smulowitz is running as a progressive well to the left of Harkins. And Smulowitz, being a new candidate is squeaky clean as far as PAC and lobbyist money goes. Harkins on the other hand has a long and sordid history with lobbyist money, and was a close deputy of disgraced House Speakers Finneran and DiMasi. We covered the PAC money issue in an earlier post.

Smulowitz has a better campaign set up, and is better funded.

The national Democratic party is actually paying attention to this race. Being Scott Brown’s old seat they would love to see Democrats retake this seat because it would blunt the national dialogue about Scott Brown being a game changer for national politics. I would not be surprised if he is getting some support from the national party.

Ross is a seasoned and charismatic politician and he’s untainted by lobbyist cash. When it comes down to it Democrats need the best candidate they can against Ross – and that looks increasingly like its Smulowitz.

Smulowitz is reporting that he’s seeing a surge of Democratic support. But he has only 3 weeks left to get his name out there among Democrats against a well known long standing Democratic politician. The question is, is there enough time?

Whichever Democrat wins the primary, its going to be difficult to win the election.

Ross is a moderate Republican. He actually voted in favor of gay marriage. He’s fiscally conservative, and like most Massachusetts Republicans no lobbyist money ( No lobbyist would bother to give a Massachusetts Republican any money. )

The district has been turning increasingly red, especially as you move south into “Brown Country”.

Percent voting for Brown:

  • Needham – 47.2%
  • Wrentham – 72.7%
  • North Attleborough – 71.5%
  • Millis – 63%
  • Sherborn – 54%
  • Norfolk – 69.9%
  • Plainville – 71.2%
  • Wayland – 44.5%
  • Alleboro – 63.5%
  • Natick – 48.7%
  • Wellesley- 49.8%
  • Franklin – 65.8%

It’s going to be tough for a Democrat in a lot of those towns. Democrats are going to need the best candidate possible it win it. What is better for them a new candidate who is smarter and untainted by insider politics? or an established and well known Democrat? Especially given that the election happens on May 11th, just a few short weeks after the primary on April 13th.

I’m betting Smulowitz wins the primary, and then Ross wins the election.