January 5, 2010

Is it really possible that the next Senator from Massachusetts...

... will be a Republican?

The Democrat (state Attorney General Martha Coakley) is still ahead (in the race to replace the dead Kennedy), but only by 9%, and her strongly favor/strongly disfavor ratio is terrible compared to the Republican (state Senator Scott Brown). It's a special election, and special elections depend more heavily on who happens to vote. If we assume it's the people with the strongest opinions, then that big disparity in the favorability ration is good news for Brown.

The election takes place on January 19th, and given this new poll, now that everyone's paying attention, there should be a lot of action in the next 2 weeks. Presumably, people will vote not just based on the individual, Coakley/Brown, but based on what they want to see the U.S. Senate do with the healthcare bill. That question is especially interesting because Massachusetts has actually experienced a similar sort of healthcare reform since 2006. Though liberals tend to support the reform, only 32% of Massachusetts voters think the state healthcare program has been a success. (36% call it a failure, and 32% didn't know.)

In short, it should be an interesting couple of weeks.

59 comments:

AllenS said...

Not. Gonna. Happen.

Freeman Hunt said...

If it does happen, I think I'll throw a party way down here in Arkansas.

Robin said...

I went to law school at BC, and I know quite a few Mass lawyers who consider Martha to be a blithering idiot.

That said, AllenS is correct.

rcocean said...

Only 9 points down - its a Landslide!

The Republicans should simply give up in Massachusetts. Save the money and use it elsewhere.

MOswingvoter said...

So many eeyores, so little time...

Scott M said...

As little good I have to say about the RNC, I hope this guy pulls it off...if for no other reason than how utterly pissed off I got about the Massachusetts situation and the unmitigated gall at what the DNC tried to pull off here.

Once upon an incumbency, the MA state rules allowed the governor to appoint a replacement should a senate seat come open. Since it was going to happen under a GOP governor (Romney) who was likely to appoint a GOP senator...well, we just can't have that, can we Teddy?

Ted Kennedy, the ultimate in liberal-democrat hypocrisy, led the charge under a populace-pleasing banner demanding that the law be changed so the PEOPLE could select their replacement senator, thereby satisfying his sense of democracy and decency.

Only...that's not what happened at all. We now know that this was complete and utter bullshit; political triangulation at its most base, most vile.

Once Teddy fell ill and it became clear that he was going to involuntarily vacate the seat, he demanded that the governor make the appointment, basically giving a big kiss-my-ass to the same populace he was supposed to be serving before.

Very little made my blood boil in 2009 like this did.

I say punishing the DNC in MA for this is reason enough to vote for the GOP candidate. Screw the rest of it. The fact that a GOP win here will shake the DNC to its elitist, we-know-better-than-you cockles is just a side effect.

If that's not a good enough reason, do it for the pure poetic irony of a GOP no-vote on health care being cast by the seat old, drunk, red-nosed, hypocrite Teddy used to sit in while spending the decades championing federal control over health-care and asking after the latest Chappaquiddick jokes.

"er...ah..." indeed. I'm off to donate a C-bill to Brown's campaign. If you do so, donate directly to him, not to the RNC.

The Drill SGT said...

The Republicans should simply give up in Massachusetts. Save the money and use it elsewhere.

Be nice if the RNC had that million they pissed away on Dede...

Scott said...

Rasmussen's methodology is quite different from other polling firms. Because they use "robo-calls" to canvass respondants, people may feel less risk in expressing an honest opinion than they would be when talking to a human being.

Perhaps thats why Rasmussen doesn't produce results similar to other polls when evaulating public opinion on Obama. People might be less embarassed to tell a robo-call that Obama sucks than they would be if they were telling a human -- and particularly an African American poll taker, if they thought they might take offense at the opinion.

Triangle Man said...

I read that Rasmussen under-sampled independents for this poll (probably on 538). I'll be interested to see how it plays out.

Fred4Pres said...

Highly unlikely, but if it did happen it would definitely be grounds for a heck of a party.

Widmerpool said...

Here's one Mass voter for Brown. Would surprise me if he pulled it off thought. Mass voters (despite their national reputation) are allergic to obvious liberal hacks (see Mike Capuano, Coakley's primary opponent, or Shannon O'Brien, Romney's opponent in the gov race). Although I think Coakley is also nothing but a liberal hack, she seems to have cultivated the thoughtful, Cambridge lefty image which sells in the 'burbs. She really is just a hack though.

Big Mike said...

I'm with Drill Sgt. I don't see why the RNC spent so much on a Congressional race in upstate NY where the (alleged) Republican turns out to be left of the Democrat on most issues and yet cannot spare some loose change for Brown.

Given that we're talking Massachusetts, this looks like the sort of race where a close loss is almost as good as a win. Upsides for the RNC include possibly persuading additional Democrat incumbents to retire, persuading good Republican candidates to get into races elsewhere in the country, persuading donors to open their wallets for November's races, etc.

I supported Michael Steele, but he's looking more and more like the wrong man for the job.

Shanna said...

Highly unlikely, but if it did happen it would definitely be grounds for a heck of a party.

Absolutely, but I apply the standard I use for forcasted snow in arkansas...I'll believe it when I see it. Until then it's just fun to think about.

Titus said...

Mass will elect a republican to senate when Mississippi elects a democrat.

Fun fact Scott Brown's daughter was a finalist on Idol.

Opus One Media said...

I'm sure there will be a republican elected in Massachusetts if election day is held on the third sunday after pigs fly.

ricpic said...

Blacks aren't the only identity voters. The fact that Martha Coakley is an Irish Catholic gives her an almost insurmountable edge in heavily Irish Catholic Massachusetts. The northeast remains the most parochial part of the country.

Florida said...

I will bet you, Ann, any amount of money you would be willing to lose, that Scott Brown will not garner more than 35% of the votes cast in this election.

The answer to your question is that it shows your political naivete to even have asked it.

What's interesting is the almost simultaneous posts asking this same question on almost every conservative website today - most with links to Brown's fundraising apparatus. I'm not suggesting these posts are linked in any way - but it would certainly appear that way to the suspicious.

Nine percentage points behind portends a landslide defeat for Brown. Massachusetts is owned by the Democrat Party and the only way you can win here is to be either an outright Democrat, or like Mitt Romney be a secret Democrat.

If Barack Obama was trailing Sarah Palin by 9 percentage points two weeks before an election, I doubt anyone would be asking whether this demonstrates his ability to win.

Titus said...

Scott Brown posed for Nudie Pictures too which are kind of hot..when he was younger natch. They are all over the internets, check him out, not bad for a republican.

Titus said...

Scott Brown is kind of like Romney. He is all over the map on abortion. He is kind of hot though. I would do him.

edutcher said...

9 points, as several have said, is striking distance in Taxachusetts - that in itself is unusual. And, as Robin noted, Maatha has a lot of baggage.

Is it a done deal? Not yet, but a lot depends on how bad the people in the People's Republic are hurting and how mad they are. Right now, Maatha's favorable/unfavorable ratio is a lot worse than Brown's.

As I say, this country is due for a big shift - unemployment for 16 - 24 year olds is 52% and they're the ones that are usually soft-headed enough to go Demo.

WV "tedis" Those one-piece things that stay on a woman's body about 5 seconds once her husband sees her in one.

EDH said...

Yes, he can!

Coakley isn't exciting the liberal base, and Brown is very attractive to moderates.

BTW, he's not running against the Mass Health Law, specificaly, but against a one-size fits all national plan that's too big to fail and that it could harm a state initiatives like Mass's.

He's an appealing guy with an appealing family. He's working class, from a broken family, and famously posed as a Cosmo centerfold in 1982 to help pay for law school.

His two gorgeous daughters are front and center in his campaign. The older Ayla was an American Idol semifinalist.

His wife, Gail Huff, graduated from my high school a year behind me and is a popular Boston TV news reporter. She's keeping a low profile to avoid a conflict of interest, but everyone knows her and I'm sure that's helped him even more with women.

As an aside, Huff was in a music video in the 1980s, The Girls with the Curious Hand, by Digney Fignus.

Watch what happens to the tube of sunscreen!

Balfegor said...

re: Scott:


Rasmussen's methodology is quite different from other polling firms. Because they use "robo-calls" to canvass respondants, people may feel less risk in expressing an honest opinion than they would be when talking to a human being
.

That and, as I understand it, they also apply a "likely voter" screen, while other firms use polls of all adults. This has a tendency to inflate the Right or Conservative figures on his polls, since the population of people who actually show up to vote is typically markedly more conservative than the population as a whole. I have no idea how they perform their likely voter screen. It seems like something that could lead to awfully junky numbers if his methodology fails to reflect the attitude of the electorate. But his results appear to be as good as any other pollster, when it comes to elections.

bagoh20 said...

Even if he loses by 9 points the message is already sent and received.

There are a lot of democrats whistling past their voter pool.

David said...

Long shot. Plus Brown will probably become a democrat to get reelected.

Big Mike said...

@EDH, won't happen. Rasmussen puts Coakley at 50%. Even though undecideds normally break against the incumbent (yes, I'm aware Coakley is not the incumbent, but for all practical purposes she's pretty much the same thing) the best Brown could do still has him losing by about 51% - 49%.

But that's got some silver lining. For a Democrat to win only narrowly in Massachusetts would be a good thing for non-Democrats (make of my terminology whatever you will!) elsewhere nationally.

Glenn Reynolds linked to a David Brooks column earlier today where Brook lamented how rapidly the country is turning back to the right in 2009-2010. Well, du-u-u-h. Brooks and the other limousine liberals he writes for may have the money to shield themselves from the worst of the Democrat's policies in 2009, but the rest of us are stuck.

As I've commented in earlier Althouse posts, normally a party out of power has time to lick its wounds, regroup, and find new leadership, but the Democrats under the (mis-)rule of Pelosi, Reid, and Obama have screwed up so many things so rapidly that Republicans haven't had the time to regroup and find new leadership.

And Michael Steele certainly isn't it, nor is Newty Gingrich. Sarah Palin is useful at skewering liberals that need skewering, but I don't see her up to the nuts and bolts of party building. Does the RNC realize how badly it looks to the rest of the party? I'll bet not.

MrBuddwing said...

Has no one noticed that of the six Massachusetts governors who followed Michael Dukakis, five were Republicans?

Of course, the last Republican U.S. senator from Massachusetts was Henry Cabot Lodge. Then again, you never know, especially in the post-Edward Kennedy era.

bagoh20 said...

Maybe I'm nuts, but I don't think the GOP needs leadership - it has the tea party movement just waiting for the right candidates to be there to vote for. Put them up, get them money, done. Just don't expect them to be go-along-to-get-along types. The right candidates could take a lot of seats with little convincing. Any "leadership" put forth will only kill the energy with platitudes.

A lot of the county is at the "been there done that" point now and wants simple small government answers.

My only fear about 2010 is that the GOP will attempt to lead rather than follow.

EDH said...

Big Mike,

Like the kid in the wheelchair: I can dream, can't I!

The other thing to keep in mind is that this special election is only for the balance of Kennedy's term.

This seat is up for grabs again in 2012.

A close race for Brown could set him up for 2012.

In fact, he might be better positioned to win it in 2012 for the long haul than to defend it in 2012.

Although, if he does well, in either case the Democrats in the interim will make it job #1 to destroy him.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

January 19th is my birthday, so I'm hoping that's a good sign.

But then, my husband's birthday is the first week of November, and it fell on a Tuesday in 2008, so we're not optimistic.

WV: mofatho- no, really, it is.

mariner said...

How can we poll the dead people to see how they'll vote?

John Stodder said...

I have no idea how they perform their likely voter screen. It seems like something that could lead to awfully junky numbers if his methodology fails to reflect the attitude of the electorate.

The usual method is voting history combined with stated intention. If you voted in the last election, the chances go way up that you'll vote in the next one.

To be sure, relying on voting history alone probably would have undercounted Obama's numbers, but Rasmussen was accurate in 2008 throughout the election process. So he must have other ways to measure it.

He seems to put a lot of stock in the intensity of feelings. He alone touts the difference between "strongly favor" and "strongly disfavor" as a meaningful kind of index. So that might figure into how he determines likely voting behavior.

P.S. It can't be a coincidence that just before this poll came out, there was a wave of attacks on Rasmussen's objectivity coming from the Democratic left. I think this is a poll they saw coming, and given the Mass. election's timing with the health care vote, they wanted to make sure the mainstream media covered the results in an ambivalent way, so voters and potential funders and volunteers would take it with a grain of salt.

jayne_cobb said...

Meh.

To quote HotAir: This is a free kick for the GOP.

If he wins (or loses by single digits) in Massachusetts it's an electoral earthquake. If he loses, it's Massachusetts and no one is surprised.

The only wild card I can see is that a sizable chunk of Dems. are pissed about the bill and want it killed (see FDL and Harry Dean). It's unlikely but I suppose it's possible they could either stay home, go independent, or (shudder) vote for the Republican in large enough quantities to affect the results.

That said I figure it ain't gonna happen.

Scott said...

NEWS FLASH: Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) just announced that he's not going to seek reelection.

I think the smart Democrat career politicians see the writing on the wall.

Big Mike said...

@EDH, a few years back there was a Republican senatorial candidate in Illinois who lost a close one, but he won the rematch.

Of course the guy's opponent was named Douglas and his own name was Lincoln.

So dreams do come true.

(Not to say that Scott Brown is another Lincoln -- for one thing he's better-looking and better-educated and his wife isn't insane.)

FWIW, I see that Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has announced his retirement "to purse other interests." Perhaps seeing a close race in Massachusetts while he himself is from a red state had something to do with that?

knox said...

"Republican" means nothing to me now. Although, to be fair, maybe this guy is actually somewhat fiscally responsible? That's all that matters at this point.

Big Mike said...

BTW, Florida, 35%???

You pick a charity and I'll pick a charity and the loser donates $50. Seem fair?

Big Mike said...

In fact, Scott Brown's campaign seems like a good charity, why don't you admit defeat now and send the money straight to him?

Scott said...

There’s the banjo serenader, and the others of his race,
And the piano-organist—I’ve got him on the list!
And the people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face,
They never would be missed—they never would be missed!
Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this, and every country but his own;
And the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy,
And who “doesn’t think she waltzes, but would rather like to try”;
And that singular anomaly, the
Democratic Senator from North Dakota,
I don’t think he’d be missed—I’m sure he’d not he missed!

Theo Boehm said...

Widmerpool, upthread, has it about right when he says about Martha Coakley, "...she seems to have cultivated the thoughtful, Cambridge lefty image which sells in the 'burbs. She really is just a hack though."

Having lived here 30 years and followed almost her entire political career, I've come to intensely dislike Martha Coakley. The reasons are complex and go back to the Fells Acres Day Care case in the '80's, among many other instances of her taking the trendy/easy/politically expedient course in her prosecutions, not to mention her always au courant policy positions.

She really, really is a hack.

In the Senate, she will be a reliable robo-vote whenever Democratic leadership pushes her "on" button.

She has a musical bent, too. You'll see her in the halls humming, "I always voted at my party's call, and never thought of thinking for myself at all."

Right now, there's a lot of snow outside. I think I'll make a ball out of some and drop it into my boiling spaghetti. What happens will stand for the chance Scott Brown has to actually be elected.

More's the pity. But this has ALWAYS been a one-party state, starting in 1621. The parties may change, but the mentality will NEVER. The Irish learned their lessons in in one-party Democratic politics from the one-party Republican Yankees, who learned from the Whig Yankees, who learned from the Federalist Yankees, who learned from the Puritan Yankees. In politics, if you deviate, you will have demonstrated that you really Aren't From Around Here, Are You? Or, as my old Yankee boss once said, quite unselfconsciously, about, Republicans, "They just aren't our sort."

That's the upper-crust take. I don't want to tell you about the shocked looks and mutterings from others of more modest means and Hibernian ethnicity if you mention the evil "R"-word.

But I've heard from a friend, well-connected at the State House, that there are a lot of people like me, but much more serious Democrats, who have long seen through Martha Coakley and would rather see Jack the Ripper in the Senate.

You make a lot of enemies as a prosecutor and Attorney General. Look what happened to the very liberal Attorney General Scott Harshbarger when he ran for Governor. So, I would not impute Scott Brown's rise in the polls to a groundswell of support from the five Republicans in the state.

No, it's just a lot of pissed-off normal people who have followed enough local politics to know a hack when they see one.

Theo Boehm said...

There's one other thing about Scott Brown: Republicans who get elected in Massachusetts are in modern times almost always affable Yankees, such as Frank Sargent and Bill Weld. Mitt Romney wasn't really a Yankee, but he played one when the cameras were on.

Scott Brown is too vocally conservative—someone called him a "national Republican" the other day—to have much appeal for himself in Massachusetts. The votes he gets, I think, will be more protest votes against Coakley than any great tide of opinion turning against the Democrats who run the place.

Theo Boehm said...

Another point about Massachusetts politics is that people here do not see electing a Republican as a cure for bad Democratic policies.

Deval Patrick's semi-miserable healthcare mandate has not been wildly popular, but, where I live, it's been accepted. I don't think people see Scott Brown as the last, best hope to stop a similar putrid outcome on the national level.

No, they just don't like Martha Coakley.

garage mahal said...

Losing = Winning

Methadras said...

A real miracle is to see people like Barney Frank removed.

somefeller said...

It can't be a coincidence that just before this poll came out, there was a wave of attacks on Rasmussen's objectivity coming from the Democratic left. I think this is a poll they saw coming, and given the Mass. election's timing with the health care vote, they wanted to make sure the mainstream media covered the results in an ambivalent way, so voters and potential funders and volunteers would take it with a grain of salt.

Rasmussen has been criticized by liberals and has had a reputation as a polling outfit that leans conservative for quite some time. This isn't anything new. Conspiracy theories are fun, though.

John Stodder said...

Rasmussen has been criticized by liberals and has had a reputation as a polling outfit that leans conservative for quite some time. This isn't anything new.

Nate Silver, a strong liberal but also an honest data scientist who owns the niche of political survey analysis from a statistical viewpoint, doesn't agree with the criticism. In 2008, Rasmussen was ranked by Silver's methodology as the third most accurate pollster of the elections of that year.

The substance of the critique that was pushed through Politico was that Rasmussen isn't playing fair because he polls likely voters instead of all voters or all adults. Many other polls have, for decades, used this method, and it's generally considered more projectable. It is grasping at straws to say Rasmussen's likely-voter filter proves bias. The Obamettes simply don't believe their guy is in political trouble, or that he is contributing to the political troubles of other Dems. And they don't want you to believe it either.

I'm not much for conspiracy theories, but the Mass. senate election is the only election going on, it's been known for awhile he'd be polling on it this week, and, knowing that internal polls also showed slippage, it makes perfect sense for Democratic officials to step on what was going to be regarded as a bad story.

I worked in PR for years. It's what I would have done if the opportunity presented itself. It's not conspiracy, it's craftsmanship.

John Stodder said...

With all that, I see no way the Reep wins this one.

Theo Boehm said...

I agree with John Stodder: No way this Republican wins.

What all the polling data miss, I think, are the reasons people might vote for Scott Brown, or rather against Martha Coakley.

The metaphysics, if you will, of polling analysis often implies that people vote ideologically, or at least for or against candidates who take positions on policies, such as national health care, that they like or dislike.

I think in Massachusetts, it's much less issue-driven and more personal than that. Almost everybody I've talked to who are voting for Brown are doing so simply because Coakley is such a transparent hack. This is not a matter of high policy, but personality. The details of her record as a prosecutor nail the coffin for these voters, of which I am one.

This is the main reason she's run such a very low-key, nearly invisible campaign. She really doesn't want to remind people who she is. Scott Brown is trying to draw her out, but I think it's too late.

People on this blog and elsewhere like to make an an ideological contest and a referendum on national politics from this.

No, it's just remarkably incestuous, insider politics in Massachusetts. The same-old-same-old, except with a present-day Republican who refuses to die.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Maybe I'm nuts, but I don't think the GOP needs leadership - it has the tea party movement just waiting for the right candidates to be there to vote for.

You make sense.

Instead of trying a 3rd party movement (we know how well that worked out with Perot), the Tea Party should just take over the GOP.

After all...the Republicans have a perfectly good party just going to waste. They aren't using it at all...someone might as well.

somefeller said...

I didn't say anything regarding the accuracy of Rasmussen, so that's a distraction. You stated that It can't be a coincidence that just before this poll came out, there was a wave of attacks on Rasmussen's objectivity coming from the Democratic left, thus implying that this is some new attack on Rasmussen coming from the left just for this election. I pointed out that this critique is nothing new (here you can find Marc Ambinder talking about this line of criticism from back in 2007), so the idea that the criticisms of Rasmussen are part of a new line of attack based on the Massachusetts election is incorrect and does sound like, if not a conspiracy theory, at least ill-informed.

somefeller said...

But yeah, I suspect the Democrat will win in this race. I lived in Massachusetts for part of my misspent youth (and was a Bill Weld Republican in those days - still am in many ways), so I'm somewhat familiar with the turf there, and it's not GOP-friendly.

vbspurs said...

Is it really possible that the next Senator from Massachusetts...
... will be a Republican?


Chappaquidick has frozen over, so MAYBE.

Cheers,
Victoria

jaed said...

One wildcard is the the Libertarian candidate is named Joe Kennedy. He is not, as it happens, one of those Kennedys...

...but, this being Massachusetts, might not a long-installed spinal reflex lead some Democratic voters to pull the lever next to "Kennedy"? It is, after all, the family seat. Which, to whatever extent it happened, would tend to take away from Coakley's totals.

Theo Boehm said...

jaed: That is a distinct and cheery possibility.

Der Hahn said...

To go with Scott's earlier flash, AP is now report that Dodd's retiring.

Big Mike said...

@DBQ, I like the way you think.

But having gone through this once before back when I lived in Maryland, I caution everybody that there will be a lot of resistance from the entrenched county and precinct party "leaders." Best ways forward include volunteering to take over an empty precinct, or working directly for the candidate you like. This can take the form of canvassing, get-out-the-vote, etc.

Jeremy said...

"The Democrat (state Attorney General Martha Coakley) is still ahead (in the race to replace the dead Kennedy)..."

classless.

Skookum John said...

Har har, Jeremy of all people presumes to pronounce on others' class or lack thereof.

F**k you, Jeremy.

gpm said...

MrBuddwing said...

Of course, the last Republican U.S. senator from Massachusetts was Henry Cabot Lodge.

Umm, no. That would be Ed Brooke.

--gpm

vbspurs said...

...but, this being Massachusetts, might not a long-installed spinal reflex lead some Democratic voters to pull the lever next to "Kennedy"

That might be a kind of poetic justice, because IIRC, JFK was first elected to congress in part, due to the split Italian vote. Two men with the exact same name (was it Anthony J. Rossi? Something like that) were on the ballot.