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Scott Brown and the median Massachusetts voter

By Dylan Matthews

David Herzenhorn has a good piece on the inevitable conservative disillusionment with Scott Brown, now that he's started voting like a representative of Massachusetts:

In his first vote after taking office, Mr. Brown joined with Democrats, and their majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, in support of a $15 billion jobs bill. He was the first of just five Republicans to break with the party’s leadership on that bill.

And though he kept his campaign promise to oppose the big health care legislation, and has voted with the Republican leadership in the overwhelming majority of cases, he has also sided with Democrats on some important issues. Most notably, he voted in favor of the financial regulatory bill even though the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and the rest of the conference leadership, voted no and denounced the measure as overly expanding the government.

This is yet more confirmation of the finding, in a recent Alan Abramowitz study, that increased conservatism is negatively correlated with electoral performance in Senate races. Abramowitz found the deviation between each Republican senator's performance and that of the GOP presidential candidate's in their states, and then graphed it across their ideological standing. Here's the result:

If anything, Brown might have to get more moderate to survive. Massachusetts is a considerably more liberal state than Maine (Obama won by 26 percent in the former and 17 percent in the latter), and yet Brown's record is more conservative than Olympia Snowe’s or Susan Collins's. He has voted with the GOP 80 percent of the time, whereas the Maine senators only do so on about two thirds of votes. Assuming Brown wants another go-round, some more defections may be in order.

-- Dylan Matthews is a student at Harvard and a researcher at The Washington Post.

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 2, 2010; 11:18 AM ET
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Unless Obama has cratered to Jimmy Carter like levels by 2012, I'm not giving Pretty Boy Brown much of a chance of returning to the Senate. Regaining that seat is going to be an incredibly high priority item for the Dems, and if they can't recruit someone with serious political chops who knows what it means to run a campaign (i.e., Ed Markey or similar) I bet they get Vicki Kennedy to run. In a Presidential election year with good turnout, she mops the floor with him.

Posted by: exgovgirl | June 2, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

What a load. Brown will coast to re-election. Mass isn't as libreal as you might think. 53% support Arizona's immigration law! 63% of state voters think everyone in America should be required to produce documents proving they're here legally. 84% say Beacon Hill should force everyone to prove their status before they get any state benefits, like public housing. Never mind taxes!

Posted by: obrier2 | June 2, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Scott Brown goes down in any election that is not a special election. The numbers just don't work for him when a reasonable % of MA voters go to the polls. The special election that he won was an anomaly.

Posted by: srw3 | June 2, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"If anything, Brown might have to get more moderate to survive."

Heaven forfend!
A trend toward moderation
Would render Scott quite useless
In defense of the nation.

Posted by: Gonzage1 | June 2, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

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