In the end, attacks only work if they are believable. This is especially true when voters are angry about “real things” like the economy, the deficit and health care. As such, for Democrats to go after Chris Christie’s spotty driving record in New Jersey, or Bob McDonnell’s graduate thesis in Virginia, or Brown’s record on emergency contraception for rape victims not only seemed out of context, but also woefully out of touch with the issues that were really driving the vote.

In a blog post last night, Brown’s pollster, Neil Newhouse, wrote that “one of the lessons Democrats are taking away from this race is that they need to go negative against Republican challengers earlier in the campaign. Be advised that this race turned and turned fast, following the debate on January 11th when the Coakley campaign launched their negative advertising. Within days her image was almost inverted and her ‘information flow’ was a net negative. Being perceived as the negative campaigner moved key groups against Martha that she could never win back.”…

Democratic candidates in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts tried the same old approach to wooing these independents. Yet, in this environment, traditional attacks aren’t the silver bullet. Voters want to end “politics as usual” — grainy attack ads with forbidding disembodied voices sure doesn’t sound or look like change.