In a move that could potentially decide the fate of the health care bill, and will certainly affect the balance of the Senate, Republican Scott Brown given not chance to win the election a few weeks ago has now moved into the lead.
01/15/10 7:10 AM EST
Here in Massachusetts, as well as in Washington, a growing sense of gloom is setting in among Democrats about the fortunes of Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley. “I have heard that in the last two days the bottom has fallen out of her poll numbers,” says one well-connected Democratic strategist. In her own polling, Coakley is said to be around five points behind Republican Scott Brown. “If she’s not six or eight ahead going into the election, all the intensity is on the other side in terms of turnout,” the Democrat says. “So right now, she is destined to lose.”
With the election still four days away, Democrats are still hoping that “something could happen” to change the dynamics of the race. But until that thing happens, the situation as it exists today explains Barack Obama’s decision not to travel to Massachusetts to campaign for Coakley. “If the White House thinks she can win, Obama will be there,” the Democrat says. “If they don’t think she can win, he won’t be there.” For national Democrats, the task is now to insulate Obama against any suggestion that a Coakley defeat would be a judgment on the president’s agenda and performance in office.
The private talk among Democrats is also reflected in some public polling on the race. Late Thursday, we learned the results of a Suffolk University poll showing Brown in the lead by four points, 50 percent to 46 percent. That poll showed Obama with a 55 percent approval rating. Also on Thursday, two of Washington’s leading political analysts, Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook, each changed their assessment of the Brown/Coakley race from a narrow advantage for Coakley to a toss-up.
A Suffolk University poll released Thursday evening shows Republican Scott Brown 4 points ahead of Democrat Martha Coakley as he continues his improbable surge in the Senate special election in Massachusetts.
The poll reports Brown is leading Coakley, 50 percent to 46 percent, just within the margin of error. Independent candidate Joe Kennedy received 3 percent.
Suffolk pollster David Paleologos told the Boston Herald even he was surprised by the poll’s results, noting that their models show a probable high turnout of independent voters next Tuesday, which is likely to benefit Brown. The results also showed Brown leading in all the state’s regions except Suffolk County.
Brown’s favorability ratings are also higher than Coakley’s, with 57 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of the state senator and just 19 percent having an unfavorable opinion. Forty-nine percent say they have a favorable opinion of Coakley, while 41 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the attorney general.
January 14th, 2010 11:30 pm
A new poll taken Thursday evening for Pajamas Media by CrossTarget – an Alexandria VA survey research firm – shows Scott Brown, a Republican, leading Martha Coakley, a Democrat, by 15.4% in Tuesday’s special election for the open Massachusetts US Senate seat. The poll of 946 likely voters was conducted by telephone using interactive voice technology (IVR) and has a margin of error of +/- 3.19%.
This is the first poll to show Brown surging to such an extent. A poll from the Suffolk University Political Research Center – published Thursday morning by the Boston Herald, but taken earlier – had Brown moving ahead by 4%.
The Suffolk University survey released late Thursday showed Scott Brown, a Republican state senator, with 50 percent of the vote in the race to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in this overwhelmingly Democratic state.
The Suffolk poll also confirmed a fundamental shift in voter attitudes telegraphed in recent automated polls that Democrats had dismissed as unscientific and the product of GOP-leaning organizations.
And it signaled a possible death knell for the 60-vote Democratic supermajority the president has been relying upon to stop Republican filibusters in the Senate and pass not only his health care overhaul, but the rest of his legislative agenda heading into this fall’s mid-term elections.
Brown has pledged to vote against the health care bill, and his election would give Senate Republicans the 41st vote they need to sustain a filibuster.
But Secretary of State William F. Galvin, Massachusetts’ top election official, said certifying Tuesday’s results could take more than two weeks.
That delay could give Senate Democrats time push Obama’s signature legislation through Congress. Sen. Paul G. Kirk Jr., the interim replacement for the seat, says he will vote for the bill if given the chance.
“Although the results show a race within the statistical margin of error, Scott Brown has surged dramatically,” David Paleologos, director of Suffolk’s Political Research Center, said in a statement. “He is attracting independent support by a wide margin and even winning some Democrats who won’t vote the party line this time.”
Paleologos said Joseph Kennedy’s supporters could end up being pivotal in the election’s outcome.
“A late rotation away from Kennedy to one of the major candidates could have a significant impact,” he said.
Friday, January 15, 2010; 3:42 PM
President Obama will travel to Massachusetts on Sunday to campaign on behalf of state Attorney General Martha Coakley, the White House said Friday — an indication of the difficulty she faces in a U.S. Senate election next week after long being considered a shoo-in.
Republican state Sen. Scott Brown is running neck-and-neck with Coakley in recent polls of the Bay State as both vie for the Senate seat long held by Edward M. Kennedy (D). The winner of Tuesday’s special election will become the first person not closely affiliated with the Kennedy family to hold the seat since 1952.
The White House had been saying for days that the president had “no plans” to go to Massachusetts, but the loss of the Senate seat would greatly complicate, if not doom, the fate of health-care reform legislation moving through Congress.
Brown sought to stay on the offensive Friday by bringing Rudolph W. Giuliani to stump here for him. Coakley planned to counter later in the day with former president Bill Clinton.
Just saying it out loud sounds crazy: The political world is focusing on a Senate race in Massachusetts.
Yes, that Massachusetts. The one that hasn’t elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972 — ironically, the same year in which it was the only state in the nation to buck the Nixon tide. A state that has had an all-Democratic congressional delegation since 1997. The Senate seat at stake in Tuesday’s special election has been in Democratic hands since 1953.
A third candidate in the race, an independent conveniently named Joe Kennedy, received three percent in the Suffolk poll. His politics is more Tea Party/libertarian than anything else, but he is after all named Kennedy (no relation to those Kennedys, however.) Lots of guessing on who gets hurt more by his presence; my guess is he takes more from Brown than Coakley. We’re talking about only a few points here, but in a close race, every vote counts … to coin a phrase.
Apparently the White House felt too much was at stake for Obama to sit it out. The president would have been second-guessed no matter what he decided.
Oh, the last time a Massachusetts Republican took a Senate seat away from the Democrats? 1946.
President Barack Obama will travel to Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon to campaign for Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley — a risky bet that puts Obama’s own credibility on the line on behalf of a weak candidate in hopes of averting a loss that would shatter the party’s 60-seat Senate supermajority.
Obama’s trip represents a stark, late recognition not just that Coakley may lose, but also that her defeat can’t be spun away. The defection of independent voters and some Democrats in one of the nation’s most liberal states would deal a stunning, and possibly fatal, blow to the centerpiece of Obama’s first-year agenda, health care reform, which congressional leaders would be left trying to jam through using procedural loopholes.
“It’s all about 60,” said a senior White House official.
Obama acknowledged the stakes in a robocall that Massachusetts voters began receiving Friday.
“I rarely make these calls, and I truly apologize for intruding on your day, but I had to talk to you about the election in Massachusetts on Tuesday, because the stakes are so high,” he opened, going on to acknowledge that the outcome of the health care debate would depend on the state’s vote.
The logic of Obama’s visit is mathematical: Coakley’s polling, a Democrat involved in the race said, has shown that certain key Democratic demographics, including less affluent women and African-Americans, don’t support her in the overwhelming numbers Democrats had expected.
“A huge block of voters who have a favorable opinion of Obama aren’t with Coakley,” the Democrat said. “He’s got to go get them for her, or she loses.”
The polling suggests that Obama cannot simply win a referendum on his
agenda: The poll found that only 36 percent of voters support pending health care legislation.
Obama will have to cut through a noisy Babel of competing messages coming at voters, even from the Coakley campaign.
Send A Message
I have no particular love for Brown. Nor do I hold any for Coakley. However, I am certainly tired of the Obama agenda. Bear in mind I hated the Bush agenda, too. I am probably doomed to be unhappy with presidents of either party.
I want a fiscal conservative, small government, small military, mind our own business agenda. That is the Libertarian platform but they seldom have a chance.
I voted for Ron Paul (a Libertarian currently masquerading as a Republican).. Nonetheless, I thought Obama would do some things right. I thought wrong. I have agreed with almost nothing he has done.
Right now, the way to stop his agenda cold turkey (and cold turkey seems to be the only thing clowns from either party understand), is to cram a vote down their faces.
A vote for Brown is a vote that will without a doubt cram a message down President Obama’s throat that he better change his tune or he will be a one-term flash in the pan.
I say, send that message.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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