We’ve got our work cut out for us

Perhaps not too surprising …

A WBUR poll of 500 registered voters (PDFs – topline, crosstabs) finds U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is in a strong position should there be a special election to fill U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s seat.

Kerry is believed to be President Obama’s choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The poll, conducted by the MassINC Polling Group on Monday and Tuesday, finds voters view Brown favorably, despite the fact that in November they chose to elect Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren in his stead. Fifty-eight percent of those polled say they have a favorable view of Brown, compared with 28 percent who view him unfavorably. Rounded off, 12 percent say they are undecided, and 1 percent say they have never heard of him.

Exactly. Warren got elected because there was unprecedented grassroots interest from across the country, much less our state; and because she was the right person at the right time with the right message.

But unfortunately, for all that we may hope that Brown burned through some of his good will and nice-guy image with the goofy, overplayed “as you can see” attack lines … that may not be the case. But I still attribute these big leads to name recognition: He is better known than the folks who have been in Congress for decades. He doubtless also still benefit from distance from the political establishment … for better or worse. If the election comes down to one of the Dem Congressfolk against Brown, there will definitely still be an insider/outsider, experienced-vs.-lightweight dynamic.

Brown is canny enough to try to get some of the “moderate” middle ground – eg. his recent flip-flop on assault weapons. Now, the same line of attack can be used against him that Warren invoked: Where have you been? Everyone on Team Dem has been on the right side of this for ages.

Long live the eternal zombie campaign of Scott Brown … you can never kill it.


23 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Blowin' with the Wind, Again

    Scotty is a hollow man. A man of no vision, and certainly not a leader. His Seinfeld Campaign ( a campaign “about nothing”) was proof, as is his conversion on Weapons of War. Let’s take him on again in ’13 and be done with him.

  2. Deval can make the difference

    by appointing a credible replacement, and not insisting that they NOT run for the seat next cycle. Vicki Kennedy’s name has been floated.

    This would, of course, piss off all the other contenders (Markey, Lynch, Capuano, and all Kennedys) but might be the best emotional choice to overcome the burnout Charlie mentions, and win the seat.

    • A credible caretaker who could stump for the party in a general

      like Michael Dukakis would also be acceptable. He could certainly remind a lot of people during the election just what the Democratic party is all about, and why we should reject the we’re-all-alone social darwinism of today’s Republican Party.

      RyansTake   @   Thu 20 Dec 6:51 PM
  3. If there is no Republican primary battle...

    Scotty will undoubtedly run as left as he can.

    This is a double edged sword problem. Trumpeting all of Brown’s lefty flip flops may bring out a Tea Party type challenge which will force him to spout party line gobbledygook. This will help the Dem candidate.

    However, if there is no GOP Senate primary, all the publicity about “how moderate” Brown is will come back to haunt the Democrats in the general election.

    The tea leaves on this one might be readable by watching whether groups like Club for Growth stay out of all the balloon floating by other Republicans or not.

    • Brown is hemmed in more than you think

      Brown cannot afford to dissuade conservative turnout. If the right does not turn out for him, which they did in 2010 (harder to say in 2012), he cannot win. In the end, that conservative surge he got in 2010 was probably not determinative, but at the same time, that conservative interest gave people a second look at Brown.

      The assault weapons thing is problematic for Brown. Obviously if he kept his position as before, he loses. But by flip-flopping he loses only a little bit less. He had to keep that position after Aurora though because he needed the conservative money. Is the NRA going to bankroll him at all this time? Probably not. Brown cannot run left because of the flip-flopping, but also because he cannot afford to lose conservative enthusiasm.

  4. Taking Brown Seriously

    Scott Brown cannot be dismissed, especially in a stand alone special election, and it’s dangerous for progressive Dems to take attitude that “I dont like him, therefore he cannot win”. Overall Mass residents still view Brown favorably and he has the opportunity to recover from a poor campaign by addressing (and potentially voting) on a series of high profile issues. Issues he can and will use to redefine himself for a special.

    Governor Patrick should seriously consider not limiting his appointee’s ability to run. Developing a Senate voting record and maintaining high visibility for the next six months would give an appointee a leg up when facing Brown. Appointing a current Congressman/woman would have the added advantage of folding their voting record on issues into a campaign that allows comparisons to Brown’s record over the last two years.

    Another problem for Dems is that the “Brown will give Republicans control of the Senate” argument is gone. Dems are firmly in control and Brown’s pitch that he will work across party lines will be effective.

    So yes, Governor Patrick needs to make a political decision not a moral high ground appointment. Voters in Massachusetts made a clear choice of direction for the Commonwealth and the Country in November. Governor Patrick needs to respect those voters and provide the best possible situation for a Democrat in a coming special election.

    • You ain't wrong

      about control of the Senate. The irony, of course, is that control of the SOTUS on Jan 1, 2015 is a giant question mark, as the Dems are defending their big gains from 2008, including seats in Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and New Hampshire… and the Dem’s “easiest” pickup opportunity seems to be Maine.

      Some of those Dem-held SOTUS seats will end up being fairly easy holds, due to a variety of personalities, state-level political history, and GOP implosions. However, it is an awful lot of turf to defend, and it won’t come cheap. Add that to the typical mid-term anti-POTUS swing of voters, and it’s really not clear if the Dem plus left-leaning-indie Senators will total 50.

      • Agreed

        I should have said firmly in control of the Senate until the 2014 elections. Several 2008 wins will be difficult to repeat in mid-term election cycle.

      • Laundreiu and Rockefeller toast

        Though the WVa GOP might be dumb enough to renominate Raese. With Jindal clearly angling for 16′ there might not be a great bench. A sibling swap is not out of the question either as Moon is a lot more popular politician.

    • It's more complicated than that

      The time frame makes it very hard for appointees to run.

      It’s hard to be frosh Senator and ramp up the kind of grass-roots effort needed at the same time. They are very different roles and are both full-time jobs.

      It would be very different if, like most states, Mass. filled vacancies by appointing for term, or at least until the next Congressional election.

      Plus in two years the stigma, if any, of being a Gube appointee to the “people’s seat” would have faded.

      The prospect of a special election this spring however, is very different.

      Ironic that it gives such an advantage to Scott Brown.

      • We DID do it like most states until Democrats changed it.

        And now they want to cahnge it back. And will change it back again when there’s a Republican governor.

        There is no bottom to their corruption.

        • Corruption

          That word does not mean what you think say you think it means.

          It is true that Ted Kennedy’s dying wishes carried a lot of weight about this last time around.

          But if you do not want the legislature to pull the rug out from under some future Republican governor in regard to some hypothetical Senatorial vacancy, here’s what to do:

          (1) elect a legislature that won’t do that, and (2) elect a Republican Governor.

      • Hawaii's method of senate replacement

        I like Hawaii’s mechanism; the governor picks from a list of 3 candidates submitted by the political party held by the former officeholder.

        Seems reasonable to me.

    • Who's taking Scott Brown lightly?

      I haven’t seen anyone saying, “I don’t like him, therefore he can’t win.”

      I’ve seen a lot of people worried that he’s going to be the odds-on favorite, though, with instant name recognition and the ability to quickly raise millions.

      RyansTake   @   Thu 20 Dec 6:53 PM
  5. interesting data

    Lots of good stuff, particularly important for those of us who can rattle the names of the entire MA congressional delegation off the tops of our heads.

    I’m a little skeptical of the predictive power of pre-campaign polls, and especially curious about this one was that Scott Brown had a higher favorable percentage than Elizabeth Warren, who just cleaned his clock on election day. I wish they had asked the question ‘For whom did you vote in November: Scott Brown, Elizabeth Warren or neither?’. The extent that the answers to that question match the actual outcome of the previous election would be very interesting.

    • And as long as I'm making a poll wish list

      I wish that somewhere in the long list of people they were asking fav/unfav about that they had included a control — some made-up but plausible sounding name. I’m really curious to see how the low-name recognition candidates like Charlie Baker or Marty Meehan stack up against someone literally no one has heard of.

      • Still his decision

        Not sure if he or is family want to get back in it so fast and he may have been relieved since he didn’t enjoy being a Senator it seemed. The Gov race may be a lot more tempting for him. It’s all speculation at this point and its still unofficial that Kerry will be tapped.

    • likeability isn't the be-all-end-all

      People will vote against people they like, if they think their policies are bad enough or they’re worried about giving the ‘other party’ a majority. That’s a lot of what happened to Scott Brown in this election, and is certainly why Lincoln Chaffee is no longer in the US Senate. He was beloved in his state, even while a majority of its citizens voted him out of the senate… and once he switched to being an Independent, voted him back in as Governor.

      RyansTake   @   Thu 20 Dec 6:56 PM
  6. The Personal Popularity

    The popularity factor, is, I think statistically insignificant. Brown carried high approval rating even as he was tied and then losing to Warren in the polls. I don’t think it is indicative of anything. Not to mention, MassINC was all over the place in its polls, so the only thing you can do is gear up.

    • Our primary concern

      Is not Brown or finding a candidate to best Brown, but picking the best candidate to fight for progressive values and legislation on the Senate. All else follows once that piece is set.

  7. What if it is a 3 person race?

    Toss in a libertarian.

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