Why Obama Is Going to Massachusetts to Help Martha Coakley

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Here are some reasons why President Obama is headed to Massachusetts this Sunday in order to campaign for Democrat Martha Coakley, who has found herself in a surprisingly close race to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy:

(1) The White House has decided to OWN the race in Massachusetts, despite faulting Coakley for running a sleeper of a campaign since the primary.

Why hasn't the National Republican Senatorial Committee or the Republican National Committee put money into the race? Because Republicans in Washington are unpopular, and Republican candidate Scott Brown has asked them to stay out. (The GOP is coordinating message efforts on a national level and asking other candidates to get involved.)

(2) Coakley needs help turning out Obama Democrats... Democrats who SUPPORT health care reform.

(3) For Democrats, the race needs a GAME CHANGER that shifts attention away from the daily drib-drab and Coakley's unforced errors. And Democrats need to understand the stakes.

Health care reform hangs in the balance -- that's not an exaggeration. If Democrats try to delay Brown's seating by ten days, the blowback will be fierce.

(4) The decision was made in light of external press coverage and polling. (Coakley's latest internals have her DOWN four points in the latest daily track.)

(5) Not only is Brown, the Republican, benefiting from free media, he's raised an incredible six million dollars over the past seven days. Republican candidates from across the country are raising money for him and conducting phone banks.

(6) Democrats and their allies will have about 600 troops on the ground next Tuesday and around 2000 volunteers, but these troops need people to motivate. Democratic base enthusiasm is at an extremely low level, motivated by the idea that Mr. Obama doesn't care about them or their ideals.

Scott Brown Vs. Martha Coakley: A Primer
Obama to Campaign for Martha Coakley in Massachusetts
Scott Brown Leads Martha Coakley in New Massachusetts Senate Poll
Could Massachusetts End Dems' Senate Supermajority?
More on the Race from CBS Station WBZ-TV in Boston

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder is CBS News' chief political consultant. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter.