By Sean J. Miller - 01/19/10 05:11 PM EST
Democratic candidate Martha Coakley is spending Election Day on the trail in Massachusetts, while her Republican rival has one event scheduled.
After voting at her Medford polling place this morning, Attorney General Coakley hit the campaign trail as polls show her trailing state Sen. Scott Brown (R). She's scheduled to make appearances in New Bedford, Fall River, Springfield and Worcester before ending her day with an election eve party at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.
And she’s not alone. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) are traveling with Coakley, a campaign spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, Independent candidate Joe Kennedy (no relation to the famous family) is spending Tuesday doing a round of radio and TV interviews before his election night party at Halfway Cafe in Dedham.
Polls close at 8 p.m. in one of the biggest special elections in history.
Coakley’s last-ditch effort comes as all the recent public polling shows her trailing Brown — in some surveys by a considerable margin.
A recent poll by InsiderAdvantage had Brown ahead by nine points. But in the unpredictable environment of a special election, one Democratic strategist said, polling universes can fail to capture likely voters. Moreover, the Democratic Party structure in the Bay State will help turn out voters for Coakley.
There are no exit polls in the race, but anecdotal evidence being reported by Boston news radio stations says turnout has been heavy so far. WTKK FM reported 500 votes were cast in two hours at a polling place in Foxborough. The Boston Globe reports that more than 23,000 ballots had been cast in Boston by 9 a.m., which is significantly higher than in the primary last month.
Some 2 million votes are expected to be cast for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D) seat. Weather could be a factor as the snow that was falling in Boston this morning turns to rain in the afternoon.
President Barack Obama made a last-minute appeal for Coakley on Tuesday. He e-mailed the reported 13 million people subscribed to his campaign arm's e-mail list urging them to turn out in force the special election.
"The Bay State can send progressive champion Martha Coakley to Washington to fight for everything we believe in — health reform, getting all of our money back from Wall Street and holding corporate interests accountable," Obama wrote. "Or the Senate can get one more person already walking in lockstep with Washington Republicans."
Obama campaigned for Coakley on Sunday. If she loses, she would be the third candidate he’s campaigned for who has lost (after Democrats lost in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races).
While Democrats have flocked to Massachusetts to help Coakley’s campaign, Brown has also received help from national Republicans. In Louisiana, for instance, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) organized phone banks on Monday and Tuesday in Baton Rouge “to help send Scott Brown to the Senate and send ObamaCare to the dustbin of history,” the Baton Rouge Advocate reported.
Democrats are worried healthcare reform will die if Brown wins.
“I think you can make a pretty good argument that healthcare might be dead," Rep. Anthony Weiner said on MSNBC on Tuesday morning. The New York Democrat was echoing similar comments Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) made last week.
One option Democrats are considering is to have the House pass the Senate’s healthcare reform bill — thereby negating the need for a 60th vote. But Weiner said Tuesday that healthcare reform would likely fail if the House were asked to rubber-stamp the Senate's bill.
"I don't see us doing that," Weiner said, adding it would be "very hard" to get the votes on board for such a thing.
Michael O'Brien contributed to this article.