A smart take on yesterday’s MA-Sen poll

If you don’t subscribe to the Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest, you should.  It’s an amazing compendium of the latest goings-on in important races around the country.  You can sign up at this link.

In any event, this morning’s digest has what struck me as a very smart take on yesterday’s poll that showed Scott Brown with a 5-point lead over Elizabeth Warren.

The first PPP poll of the Massachusetts Senate race since they switched over to their likely voter model shows a marked drop for Elizabeth Warren, who had previously been tied with Scott Brown and had led in the polls before that. The main story here may simply be the change in composition, though the 2008 presidential sample isn’t particularly odd at 58-33 Obama; the actual vote was 62-36. But another story is that Brown’s approvals do seem to be rebounding from earlier in the year while Warren isn’t winning undecided voters over as they come off the fence. Brown’s approval rating now stands at 53/36, up from 45/42 in March (when it was his turn to trail by 5). Warren, by contrast, has 46/43 favorables, compared with 46/33 in March.

It doesn’t seem like Warren is on track to win this purely on likeability grounds, but PPP’s Tom Jensen sees Brown’s Achilles heel here: Even while 54% of voters think he’s “about right” ideologically, 56% also think that the GOP in general is “too conservative,” and more importantly, 53% of voters would like Democrats to be in charge of the Senate, compared with 36% who would like Republicans to control the chamber. Warren’s problem is that only 76% of those voters who want Democrats to be in charge are in powers planning to vote for her. The roadmap here is to follow the same path as Sheldon Whitehouse vs. Lincoln Chafee in 2006, another case of taking down a likeable moderate by tying him at every turn to the national party and educating voters about how the Senate as a whole functions… a lesson which hasn’t seemed to sink in with a large enough share of Massachusetts voters yet.

I completely agree with this assessment.  Nobody will ever out-”likable” Scott Brown.  The question, really, is whether (to quote myself a few months ago) “an affable, somewhat bumbling, mildly conservative fellow” is good enough, or whether Massachusetts can do better – particularly when our affable Senator may not be ideologically totally in sync with the GOP leadership, but he nonetheless enables them by voting them into power, and by joining their filibusters more often than not.

Meanwhile, for your viewing pleasure, BMG is pleased to present this delightful nugget from 1983, sent along by an alert reader.

Recommended by methuenprogressive.


12 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Signed

    Completely agree. I don’t think you can possibly say Romney-Ryan-Brown enough times. There is certainly that opportunity for EW at the DNC to start that ball rolling.

  2. Scott Brown the Enabler and Mass. Misogyny

    Great post. This is the key point why Brown must be defeated:

    he . . . enables them by voting them into power, and by joining their filibusters more often than not.

    No amount of “regular guyness” or a compelling personal story can make up for this. Brown enables the Republicans to screw families on welfare, among many others, even though at times he was supported by welfare growing up. How nice is that?

    Sadly, there’s also a misogynistic streak that runs pretty deeply in Massachusetts politics, which creates a headwind for Warren. Massachusetts has a lower percentage of women legislators than Arizona and, unlike South Carolina, has never elected a female governor (as we know, Shannon O’Brien lost to Romney in 2002, when Romney was playing a Republican “moderate” much like Brown). I bet Warren loses at least two or three points in the polls simply because she’s a woman.

  3. Interesting. this was suggested on the other thread as well

    So the strategy is to take out moderates, which then makes the GOP entirely populated by conservatives.

    Probably the GOP pursues the same strategy, making the Democratic party as whole more liberal.

    Which would be the conclusion drawn from an examination of Congress, which shows that not only is there zero overlap in the parties (vs 1980 when there was a lot), they aren’t even close.

    So less chance for compromise, more complaints about partisanship, more Red/Blue states, more regional factionalism. More people who feel that their interests are not be represented.

    What a great political system. Really gives me hope that we’ll be able to move forward and fix the problems of the country.

    • On nearly every important vote

      Scott Brown votes with his very conservative party.
      The notion that he’s one of the few Republican advocates of bipartisanship is unsupported by the facts.

      • Do not agree

        I can get the source on this (block quote). I cut and pasted this in an email to a very conservative friend who said “Brown hasn’t really done anything that mattered to us.” The friend was right (see below)

        I suppose there are dozens of vote analyses that can paint any picture that you want (as we all know, determining what is actually being voted on is complex at times), but I bet most voters in MA (including David earlier today “particularly when our affable Senator may not be ideologically totally in sync with the GOP leadership”) do not view Brown in this way.
        Maybe we could argue over “very” “always” or conservative, but when even conservatives (like my friend) don’t view him as conservative, it will be hard to push the middle (or the “low information”) voters in that direction.

        Still, several of you commented that we should look at how Brown voted when his vote made the difference.
        We did, and here’s what we found.
        In 2011, Brown cast only two votes where the outcome would have been different had he voted the other way. The first one did not get much attention and had to do with reform of the Patent Office. The second had to do with an increase in the amount of money people could get in housing loans from the Federal Housing Administration and the Veterans’ Administration. In both votes, Brown voted against his own party. So in 2011, on votes where his vote changed the outcome, Brown actually voted against his party 100 percent of the time.
        On September 8, Brown voted against an amendment that would have derailed a compromise with the House that established a dedicated fund for the Patent Office.
        For years, the Patent Office had been underfunded because Congress would spend patent fees on programs that had nothing to do with the Patent Office. As a result, applicants could wait up to three years before they got their patents approved.
        Senators wanted the Patent Office to control how it spends the money from fees. But House Republicans wanted to maintain control over the money. The House and Senate compromised: patent fees would only fund the Patent Office, but Congress still had to approve the spending.
        Then an amendment from Senate Republicans endangered that compromise. It would have given the Patent Office complete control over patent fees. There was no way House Republicans would have agreed with that proposal.
        The Senate voted to table the Republican amendment, or to set it aside, by the narrowest of votes, 50-49. Brown voted against most of his Senate Republican colleagues to preserve the compromise with the House. The reform of the Patent Office passed. The president signed the legislation.
        The other vote came on October 20. Brown voted to extend a piece of the economic stimulus that was about to expire. As part of the stimulus, Congress had increased the amount of money that the FHA and the VA could extend on home loans in areas where homes are expensive, such as eastern Massachusetts. A vote for the higher limits meant that the FHA and VA could lend as much as $729,750 for a home in those areas. The measure passed, 60-38. It needed 60 votes to pass, and Brown voted with the majority. Had he voted the other way, it would have failed. Senate Republicans opposed increasing the loan limits. Brown bucked his own party and ensured that the loan limits were increased.
        Brown’s influential votes have not been limited to those where there was a one-vote margin.
        One member can sway others. That’s what Log Cabin Republicans said happened in 2010, when the Senate ended the long-standing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays in the military. The gay Republican group said Brown’s decision to end the ban on gays in the armed forces swayed other moderates in the Senate in both parties.
        Brown also supported the reforms of the financial system championed by Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, of Newton, and he sided with President Obama on the renewal of the START treaty with Russia limiting nuclear weapons.

        • Cite


          My google-fu is strong.

        • Regardless of Brown's specific votes, the problem is

          he will caucus and vote with the Republicans to organize the Senate. If you feel OK about increasing the probability of a Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, then maybe the stakes in the Mass. Senate race aren’t so high and Brown could be congratulated for his bipartisan moderation. Personally, I’m not OK with the Republicans running the Senate and, for that reason alone, I think Brown’s defeat is urgent.

      • How many times does John Kerry vote with Republicans?

        just wondering…

  4. Warren needs to boost her

    likability. This is doable. In person, she’s very likable.

    Karl Rove would attack Brown’s likability. Brown isn’t always likable, though that may be difficult without negative advertising. If can be nudged into performing like John McCain during the debates, it might work.

    Right now, the best we have is that as a Republican, Brown is part of the problem, not the solution.

  5. Why do we keep buying into the notion that he's likeable on BMG?

    He may have that reputation, but he’s demonstrable thin-skinned, hypocritical and he yells and swears at teenagers for their comments on Facebook.

    Instead of bowing down to his ‘like-ability’ we need to get out there and make clear how fake that is, and that the Scott in commercials and radio ads is a very different person than he is in real life.

    It’s his biggest and most important talking point and strength. Do like Karl Rove and attack him on his strength. If, by the end of the election, the people of this state realize he’s a thin-skinned a-hole, they’re going to run in the other direction.

    RyansTake   @   Wed 22 Aug 3:15 PM
    • I'm on BMG...

      and I like him!

    • I find him likable at least...

      … so far as the image he cultivates. However I also find that this image is a mirage – just ask the guy who drives his truck to his events. (I was seriously laughing out loud when I first saw his latest ad from his truck.)

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