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Massachusetts Senate: why Obama's going

Two days ago, I suggested that the national focus on the Massachusetts Senate race would ultimately help Democrat Martha Coakley overcome Republican Scott Brown’s surge. The possibility that Brown had a chance of winning would wake up unexcited Democrats. Fear would accomplish what Coakley has been unable to achieve on her own.

That’s still what may happen. But to judge from the latest polls, including a Suffolk University Poll with no obvious biases, Brown is still on the move. The Suffolk Poll shows him with a 50 percent to 46 percent lead. If my theory about Democrats’ waking up were right, I’d expect we’d start seeing at least some movement in the polls toward Coakley. It hasn’t happened yet.

You can count Democrats as officially worried. “The people who know think she’s in trouble,” a very plugged-in Capitol Hill aide told me this morning. “Loyal Democrats showing up to prevent the Republicans from getting the 41st vote is the only thing that can save her.” Another sign of alarm: When you click on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee website, what pops up at you is a form seeking contributions under the headline: “Do It For Ted.”

Ideology, Democratic demobilization and an aroused Republican base put Brown into this race, as did the Coakley campaign’s failure to take on Brown early on, while Brown was left free to define himself. But what’s hurting Democrats now is that Brown is cutting into the independent vote, partly because he has become the exciting candidate, the next new thing. He has put up an ad called “Momentum,” which is very light on issues, but creates a sense of affability, energy and sheer movement. Excitement is precisely what has been missing from Coakley’s effort.

Those who thought Massachusetts was defined by Cambridge have never been to Dracut or Westwood, the sorts of middle class places that will decide this race and that Brown is reaching out to. It’s still hard for me to believe that Massachusetts Democrats will let this race slip to Brown. President Obama’s late intervention should boost Democratic turnout. But whether he wins or not, Brown has already guaranteed himself a place in Republican lore: as the man who scared the daylights out of Democrats in a race they thought they’d never have to worry about.

UPDATE, 3:30 p.m.: Shortly after I wrote this post, I was on the phone with a leading Massachusetts Democrat and asked if Obama would be going to Massachusetts. My very reliable source said he doubted it, for the sensible reason that Obama would be putting himself on the line unmistakably in a race that was, at best, very much in doubt and, at worst, going the wrong way. I said I thought he would go, so I’m not surprised by this afternoon’s announcement that he will be campaigning for Coakley. The reason I thought this was coming: Obama already has so much on the line that the small additional risk is worth taking. If Coakley loses, Obama will be in bad trouble, and that would have been true even if he stayed in Washington. If you’re in danger of losing 80 or 90 percent of your chips anyway, you might as well go all in. There is also polling evidence that Coakley is not even getting the full support of Obama’s own sympathizers. The same Suffolk University poll that showed Brown narrowly ahead gave Obama a favorable-to-unfavorable ratio of 55 percent to 35 percent. If Obama can get his own friends to vote for Coakley, she wins. And if Coakley can’t generate excitement on her own, Obama might as well try to do it for her. (And, yes, Scott Brown is no longer Scott Who?)

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: I have had a chance to look at the Suffolk poll in more detail and noticed that Obama’s job approval rating is less robust than his personal favorable rating -- a finding consistent with other polls. Still, Obama’s job approval in this survey is positive: 48 percent approve of his performance, 43 percent disapprove. What’s striking is that the poll found that 20 percent of those who approve of Obama’s job performance are voting for Republican Brown. These are the voters Obama needs to move to Coakley’s camp.

By E.J. Dionne  | January 15, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Comments

While Massachusetts residents are decidedly Democratic in their social stances, there's a ground swell of residents fed up with being pigeon-holed as unthinking lockstep soldiers of the Left. Look for the outsiders influence to backfire on Ms. Coakley, whose resort to disgusting negative campaigns has pushed many of us who are Independents away from hearing her usually-solid voice. Brown will win, and the record will point to the negative campaigns and the presence of the SEIU and outsider Democrats as the reason she lost. Plus, most of us see this as our one chance to offer Congress a referendum on the public's view of health care reform. When Brown said he'd stop the train, or slow it, a lot of people hopped aboard his caboose.

Posted by: Chap16 | January 15, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

E.J.: I think this shift is directly attributable to the lack of enthusiasm for President Obama, if not a sense of outright betrayel, from the people who helped elect him President. I have never seen a Democrat abandon his principles more rapidly than this President, and that includes the "Great Triangulator," William Jefferson Clinton.

If the President doesn't wake up he is in for a complete wipeout in 2010 - and will utterly deserve it, though the country does not. It is a crime that the Republicans may recapture the government because of the duplicity and cowardice of the current administration and its enablers in Congress.

Posted by: johnsonc2 | January 15, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The core issue is that Brown is a telegenic candidate -- heck, he used to be a model -- whereas Coakley is uncomfortable in front of the camera. If Brown were running against Teddy, he'd be coming across as incredibly shallow, but he isn't, so he isn't, even though he is, if you know what I mean.

My core point being that Scott Brown has presented himself as an independent, which he is not, and has managed to hide his utter lack of gravitas by seeming vaguely likable and looking serious. It's sad that this is how elections get decided these days.

By the way, I'm not at all sanguine about Coakley's chances. Vicki Kennedy just cut a strong new spot which I hope will be airing a great deal, because Coakley simply isn't a forceful advocate for herself. It would be a shame to watch Massachusetts elect a Senator like Brown who is antithetical to the values of Mass voters.

Posted by: jeffwacker | January 15, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Obama has been doing what he said he would do and what people elected him to do. The problem is he was overwhelmingly elected President of a country which ceased to exist the day after the election.
If you accept the fact that the nation didn't see a repeat of the great depression (if you're out of a job I know you don't agree with me on that and I understand) and the stock market made an admirable recovery.
But the bank bailout was a firebomb hurled through the door on the way out by the previous Administration and congress.
As the recent round of bonuses show, the voters desire to see these guys hurling themselves out windows or, at the very least, living in cardboard boxes under a bridge, was well placed.

Having said, that, the challenge for Republicans if they gain control of the government next Tuesday (and make no mistake, a Brown win means John McCain becomes defacto President)will be to convince those same angry voters that while it was wrong to give them the money, it's also wrong to ask for it back. But then when did the voters ever ask for consistency from their leaders?

Posted by: hackett1 | January 15, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"My core point being that Scott Brown has presented himself as an independent, which he is not, and has managed to hide his utter lack of gravitas by seeming vaguely likable and looking serious. It's sad that this is how elections get decided these days."

.... could also be:
My core point being that OBAMA has presented himself as an AGENT OF CHANGE, which he is not, and has managed to hide his utter lack of gravitas by seeming vaguely likable and looking serious. It's sad that this is how elections get decided these days.

Posted by: sally62 | January 15, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

If Brown wins the Massachusetts senate seat, the Haitian earthquake will be nada compared to this election. The very foundations will perhaps shake the Dummycr*ps so much that they may actually REPRESENT the American voters. "Perhaps" and "may" being the operative words. But then, like lemmings, they may choose to follow obummer right over the cliff into oblivion.

Posted by: segeny | January 15, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

We all need to reach further back in to Coakley's past......It needs to be discussed more because it has every thing to do with how her abysmal values effect her decision making. Back in 2001 the Ma. Gov's Advisory Board voted unanimously to release Gerald Amirault .....but then a D.A., Martha Coakley, was more interested in preserving the infallibility of her office and did her damnedest to wage a public relations campaign to keep him in prison for the next 3 years.



In 2004 Amirault was finally paroled, but without any proviso of registering as a sex offender. Now if Coakley was so sure of his guilt, why didn't she conduct the hearings necessary to ensure he would be identified as one? What kind of disregard for the public at large does that signify? Rumor has it, she didn't wanna hold the damned hearing in fear of the embarrassment her office would face for keeping an innocent man in prison for 20 years. And this is the kind of representation Democrats want to send to Washington DC?

Posted by: Spartann | January 15, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"Cutting IN to the independent vote????"

Yeah, nice try, Dionne, you shill, but as usual, you have it wrong. Brown is not cutting into the independent vote, he absolutely TROUNCING Coakley with the independent voters.

Coakley's ONLY chance next Tuesday is if the liberal base comes out in force. She is going to lose independents by a large, large number.

Posted by: etpietro | January 15, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry Dionne, help is on its way.
The Democrats are getting ACORN involved...
The telltale signs to look for:

1) more votes in your district than voters

2) names like Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Daffy Duck, Fog Horn, Porky Pig and Al Gore on the voting list along with lots of dead people...

3) don't be fooled by the media ignoring these serious abnormalities...

4) Panthers with AK-47s at voting booths asking for your party affiliation...

5) unknown Czars running the voting booths...

6) Electronic voting machines on the Democrat side and old punch card voting devices that were shown defective in the "hanging chad" years on the Republican side

7) stramge people outside handing out money to certain people

Posted by: sophic | January 15, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Another, really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: stephenwhelton | January 15, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I think Coakley will probably eek out a win but the reason she is in a close race is about Obama and the dem agenda right now. I can't see how a President with a CBS poll number of 46 is going to be a help. If it should that Brown wins after Obamas visit to shore up Coakley he will have made a gamble and lost. He is what it is about.. He should stand aside and if she pulls it out, she pulls it out. If he shows and she doesn't win the dems have lost twice... Watch what happens.

Posted by: james_m_reilly1 | January 15, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Why not he has nothing else to do. Let's check his "to do" list:

1. National Security - Check, covered read the report and told everyone I would fix it, sometime
2. Disaster in Haiti - Check, the military has the lead with Hillary providing guidance...Good job Brownie, Nepolotano, Hillary....oh who ever!
3. National Economy - Check, tax health care, tax CEOs, tax banks we bailed out with tax money, tax, tax, tax. Oh yes and spend, spend, spend, spend,...

There that takes care of that so I will go to Mass and make sure what's her name gets elected....

Posted by: staterighter | January 15, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

The bottom line is (are Mass. voters happy with their present, state run run health care plan???? Fellow U.S. citizens would find your opinions invaluable in helping them in their decisions as to how and to whom they should vote.

Posted by: phyllis5 | January 15, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

As a Democrat who is tired of Obama excuses and capitulations, I hope Brown wins. Obama's broken promises, and his pathetic excuse for leadership during the health care debates has completely turned me against him. I don't even live in Massachusetts, but I revel in the chance to hurt the President by donating to Brown's campaign. Maybe a tough loss will make Obama start fighting for the things his base cares about. Having 60 votes is meaningless anyway, when four of those votes include Lieberman, Landrieu, Lincoln, and Nelson.

As a life long Democrat, I am also betting that Brown is the only person who can save the Democrats from themselves. If the Democrats pass the health care farce that should be called the Joe Lieberman Insurance Company Giveaway Act, they will seal their collective fates for 2010 and probably well beyond. At least if Brown wins and he torpedoes the health care bill, the Dems can blame the Republicans.

Posted by: ram_lopez | January 15, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I can say one thing for sure!! If we lose this opprtunity to reform, nothing will happen for another 30 years. No matter what republicans/conservative say, nothing will be done as we have seen since Medicare. ( I wonder why no senior republicans/conservatives/independents are not accpting medicare and buying their own insurance!!) Is this the best plan? Hell No! But this is the best possible plan giving the absolutely pathetic republican party's stance of not supporting anything that is proposed by Obama/Democrats. This country was not like this before. Democrats voted for Reagan. But, 1994/1996 politics by some members of congress has brought us this divided country.

If anyone of you ask your employer why you are not getting the raise that you used to get, they will tell you flatly that because of the health care cost. People thinks that they are getting good health care and they are not paying for it. WRONG!! Your employer is paying for it and they are not paying for their pockets. They are paying it form your salary (just like sales tax) but you don't know about it. If health continutes to increase, we the empleoyees will have les and les raise.

So, think, research....don't just take it from the talk show hosts. PLEASE do the research yourself. We owe it to our future generation.

Posted by: PD11 | January 15, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

i think this shift is directly attributable to GLENN BECK'S EXPOSE on van jones , carol browner, napolitano, the debt and the education that beck, limbaugh ,sowell,steyn and others have given to americans. thank you dems better shred alot of stuff before next year because when the repubs take over ,rangell,murtha and the other criminals will be playing checkers with jefferson.

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | January 15, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Dionne may be right but my contacts in MA keep telling me there is a ground swell for Brown. The reality is there is no way Brown can win. The Democrats are very good at making sure they stay in power once they get in, especially in MA. Here is the Globe headline I see: Obama saves the Day! Huge turn out gives election to Democrats. Then in small print. "Two million ballots were found in Roxbury all for Coakely. These were found by SEIU members and handed over to ACORN operatives who verified their authenticity."

Posted by: tomb5 | January 15, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I hope the media is finally happy. For months they have pounded the false meme that failure to pass health care reform is somehow a "Democratic failure", when in reality, it has failed because NOT ONE REPUBLICAN HAS LIFTED A FINGER TO HELP THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

Depending on the poll, anywhere between 50 and 65% of the American people want a public option included. 73% of our doctors do. But because states where practically no one lives get as much power in the Senate as places where everyone lives, and because 60% is needed, it's a tough go with one one party basically giving the American people the big finger.

THAT'S the real story. But our corporate media won't be caught dead telling the truth. They depend too much on health insurance advertising dollars to do that.

Posted by: B2O2 | January 15, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I think its a sign that the folks in Mass. are really mad and upset that the Ravens whomped the patriots and brady so badly last weekend and they decided to take it on on the democrat.

Posted by: chet_brewer | January 15, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

"his utter lack of gravitas"

Only a wacker would use the word "gravitas" in anything other than a joke.

Oh. Wait...

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | January 15, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

"when in reality, it has failed because NOT ONE REPUBLICAN HAS LIFTED A FINGER TO HELP THE AMERICAN PEOPLE."

You have it wrong. The Democrats have such a large lead in both houses of congress they are irrelevant to the process.

The failure is a purely Democratic one because they have taken so many bribes, er, campaign pledges from drug and insurance companies that the current bills represent a complete sellout of the country to the insurance and drug companies.

But give the Democrats credit; they were paid off, and they're going to stay paid off no matter what it does to them in November.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | January 15, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Coakley is running with the same sense of entitlement that John Kerry did in 2004. Defining yourself by what you're not is simply a horrible idea (i.e., Kerry was not George Bush, Coakley is not a Republican), and Obama is only setting himself up for another embarrassing failure by coming in behind such a lackluster candidate.

I think many people are simply tired of hearing that this race is for "Ted Kennedy's seat". As many are now saying, it's the people's seat, not Ted Kennedy's.

Posted by: diehardlib | January 15, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

“Do It For Ted.” ???

Don't they know Ted is dead?

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | January 15, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Obama has been doing what he said he would do and what people elected him to do. The problem is he was overwhelmingly elected President of a country which ceased to exist the day after the election.
...Having said, that, the challenge for Republicans if they gain control of the government next Tuesday (and make no mistake, a Brown win means John McCain becomes defacto President)will be to convince those same angry voters that while it was wrong to give them the money, it's also wrong to ask for it back. But then when did the voters ever ask for consistency from their leaders?

Posted by: hackett1 | January 15, 2010 12:48 PM |
****************
Have you been eating "magic mushrooms"? What logic makes you believe "John McCain becomes defacto President? Dems still will have a majority--just not a supermajority. And can you really say it might not be a good thing to actually rethink the gargantuan health insurance bill? Most of us already know: it won't improve healthcare; it won't reduce costs; it won't preserve Medicare; it WILL seriously reward insurance companies with more subscribers. Just take a deep breath and think about how this election in Massachusetts might SAVE healthcare reform.

Posted by: SavingGrace | January 15, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Scott Brown's win in Mass. would save the Democratic Party from Oblivion. Yes, you heard right. According to RA, the passage of the HealthCare bill would be equivalent to:
"Democrats Committing Suicide?"

RA says........"Democrats are committing Political suicide by ramming through in a perfectly unilateral way, using tactics that are better identified with gangsters than with the people’s representatives, and against the will of the majority of Americans, a legislation that will negatively "transform America". Without something that they can call bipartisan, every single bump, denial, higher cost, and consumer complain, even those that are unjustified, related to Healthcare, will be blamed on Democrats for the next decade and beyond;......"
The indictment is accurate if you care to see it at: http://www.robbingamerica.blogspot.com
Democrats need not apply.............just repeat after me........we are not committing suicide…..we are being led down the cliff by Obama.

Posted by: JohnGalt9 | January 15, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

How I love to see the leftists in the media rationalize, self-delude, and overlook the obvious in analyzing Scott Brown's winning campaign. People are fed up with Obama's lies, his far left ideology , and the corruption of the political class as a whole.

If alive today, our founding fathers would be riding though the town square cheering the populace to fight the statists and their media acolytes.

Posted by: carjvc | January 15, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

... and when you click on the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee website, what pops up at you is a form seeking contributions under the headline: “Do It For Mary Jo Kopechne.”

Posted by: Bjartur | January 16, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Make no mistake-- the independents are deserting this President in droves. The King is Dead in Massachusetts and now there is a two party system. It takes time to dismantle a statewide political machine but it will happen. Regardless of the outcome of the Brown-Coakley race, the Kennedys and their corrupt, excessive, hedonistic (all acquired from bootleg liquor - how appropriate) lives are history and that is a Great Thing!!!

Posted by: hz9604 | January 16, 2010 6:51 AM | Report abuse

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