Poor John Connolly and Marty Walsh. Up until now, has a hotly-contested open mayoral race in a major American city ever generated so little interest?
In 2013, the race to succeed Mayor Menino has consistently had to fight for air time with some of the biggest local stories in a generation: the Boston Marathon Bombing and the Whitey Bulger Trial. Now, just a couple of weeks out from Election Day, the city’s beloved ball club has qualified for its 3rd World Series in the past 9 years.
The winner of Walsh vs. Connolly? Who knows? When it’s Walsh vs. Connolly vs. the Red Sox, however, it’s proven to be no contest.
The first televised debate between Walsh and Connolly on October 15th went up against the Sox-Tigers ALCS game. According to WBZ-TV, the debate managed just a 1.9 rating or 52,200 viewers. The Sox game pulled in a 31.1 rating in the ninth inning (during the debate) or a total of 979,500 viewers.
Meantime, the candidates didn’t exactly light up the stage in that first contest. In fact, it could not have been more uneventful. (Cracking a joke days later, Walsh referred to the debate as “riveting”). Perhaps it was intended strategy by both camps: why make a big “splash” when no one is watching?
Thankfully, for the candidates, Tuesday night's second debate didn’t conflict with the World Series and neither will the third (and final) debate, scheduled for October 29th. It appeared both candidates were keenly aware of the opportunity. Connolly took his biggest shots yet at Walsh’s ties to organized labor and Walsh challenged Connolly to release his law practice client list from the past 12 years. As of this writing, we don’t know the ratings, but surely they’ll be better than they were for the first debate.
There are now less than two weeks left in this milestone election for the candidates to define the differences between themself and their opponent. That means converting those debate arguments into print stories and themes that resonate on social media. In a political race that could come down to the bottom of the 9th, no longer going head to head with the Red Sox should help tremendously.
Learn more about the first post-election media panel on Boston’s new mayor.