MA-Sen: Brown Posts Leads Big Enough to Drive a Truck-Shaped Prop Through

Suffolk (4/3-5, likely voters, no trendlines)

Deval Patrick (D): 37

Scott Brown (R-inc): 52

Undecided: 11

Mike Capuano (D): 26

Scott Brown (R-inc): 52

Undecided: 19

Tim Murray (D): 23

Scott Brown (R-inc): 51

Undecided: 22

Joe Kennedy (D): 40

Scott Brown (R-inc): 45

Undecided: 13

Setti Warren (D): 9

Scott Brown (R-inc): 52

Undecided: 32

Ed Markey (D): 26

Scott Brown (R-inc): 53

Undecided: 19

Vicki Kennedy (D): 30

Scott Brown (R-inc): 52

Undecided: 16

(MoE: ±4.4%)

Here’s one more splash of cold water for anyone who thinks that Massachusetts, what with its dark blue hue, will be an easy Senate pickup in 2012. Local pollster Suffolk (who correctly predicted that Brown would win by 4 in the Jan. 2011 special election) find him leading by mostly large margins, ranging anywhere from 5 (against former Rep. Joe Kennedy, who hasn’t expressed any interest in the race) to 43 (against currently unknown Newton mayor Setti Warren, who seems like the likeliest of these seven to actually run).

They aren’t the first pollster to find these kinds of numbers lately, although these are the worst of the batch; for comparison’s sake, PPP found Brown leading MA-08 Rep. Mike Capuano by 16 in December, while WNEC in March gave him a 13-point lead. (Today’s poll has Capuano, the only Dem sampled in all three polls, down by 26.) That WNEC poll raised some eyebrows for its sample composition (34 D, 12 R, and 47 I, compared with 2008 exit poll numbers of 43 D, 17 R, 40 I), and today’s Suffolk poll is in that same territory, with a breakdown of 37 D, 12 R, 48 I.

If there’s good news to be found here, it’s that the Democrats tested (with the exceptions of Gov. Deval Patrick, and the Kennedys, all of whom have said they won’t run) are pretty poorly known, and their share of the vote is only likely to go up once somebody’s actually in the race and making the case in the local media against Brown’s mostly party-line voting record. In the meantime, though, through personal charisma (he has 58/22 favorables) and skill at building his brand as a moderate through frequent ritual invocations of his independence (based on the 56/24 ‘yes’ response to the question of whether he has kept his promise to be an independent voice), Brown’s starting in unexpectedly strong position. Add in the more-appealing possibility of another open seat in 2013 (if, as some expect, John Kerry resigns to become the next Secretary of State), and it’s no wonder the DSCC is having recruitment problems with this seat.

86 thoughts on “MA-Sen: Brown Posts Leads Big Enough to Drive a Truck-Shaped Prop Through”

  1. recently, the Tea Party isn’t too happy with Scott Brown, so they might try to teabag him in a primary…if the Tea Party even exists in MA

  2. I don’t think most people–hell, possibly anyone here–would argue it will be easy to defeat him. I personally think it’s a helluva lot likelier than these polls indicate, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a close race either way. In fact, I would be surprised to see anything more than a six to eight-point spread. It’s maddening, but at the same time, it makes for a very interesting race.

    Anyway, what’s the partisan breakdown as far as how each candidate does? Am I missing this somewhere?  

  3. And that will change once he has an opponent that can increase their own name recognition while at the same time articulating why Brown should go. But gonna be really tough all the same.

  4. was leading by big margins at this point in the 2006 cycle. And he lost narrowly. I’m not saying that’s going to happen here, but that Brown could be in a similar position.

    And few people have said that this will be an easy pickup. But the idea that it’s completely out of reach is unlikely. Democrats have the state partisanship behind them, with likely a lot of money going towards it. (Why do you think Scott Brown is trying to raise $25 million?)

    And one thing is that Brown’s ceiling is 52-53%. Obviously, that’s enough for a win, but it does show that his appeal may never expand, and an improvement in the political climate for the Democrats may cause a narrow win.

  5. I need to phrase this exactly right, or it will sound offensive.  here goes.  

    Right now, it’s possible that Brown’s popularity is based upon non-issues or, if you prefer, nonpolicy or nonpolitical reasons.  Mainly, the sympathy from the sexual abuse revelations. all or most voters (and people) feel sympathetic (and rightly so) towards him. Nonpartisan or weakly partisan voters likely not only rate him positively, but plan to vote for him, since, this early in the cycle, why not?  It’s just a poll, it’s not binding to say you’ll vote for him this early.

    When the campaign starts and the attention shifts from non policy non-political issues, to policy and political ones (economy, immigration, FP, Mass issues, etc etc) people will still feel sympathetic towards Senator Brown, but it won’t be enough for them to vote for him. their concerns will not be his childhood, but rather his time in office his policy positions.  As a MASS. Republican he will lose votes when attention shifts to policy.  It might not be enough to defeat brown, but his numbers will probably fall back to earth within a year.

    Note, I’m not saying Brown revealed this to get votes, just that people feeling more sympathetic and willing to vote for him because of it, despite policy reasons is human nature.  

    I hope I explained this in a quasi-succinct way without seeming like an ass.  

  6. As Harry Reid proved, picking your opponent is half the battle.  Brown is doing his best to keep the stronger opponents away – both by raising huge sums and voting as a moderate.  All congressman are wary of even expressing much interest because they don’t want their seat to be the one that gets redistricted away.  Others may be holding back, thinking that the Kerry seat might open up or perhaps hoping to run for Gov in 2014.

    Someone will run against Brown and that person will certainly be a credible candidate.  But I’d be willing to bet that they will not be anyone’s first choice.

  7. I think much of what happens depends on who the GOP nominee for President is. I mean, once the primary is underway Brown may be forced to embrace or run from the nominee.

    I remain completely surprised that none of our State Sens or Reps are looking at this race. They worked with STATE Sen. Brown and saw first hand how effective the most junior member of the minority party was… Sonia Chang-Diaz remains my TOP choice.

    If Romney is the nominee then I give Brown better chances, but can you imagine the damage that the GOP brand will further suffer in MA as aspiring Presidents discuss their issues as they try to out-conservative eachother?

  8. Is not viewed as a hundred percent safe. Senator Bruce Tarr is apparently very interested in it, and with the liklihood of another mess of a primary, and the election falling during the begining of second term doldrums for Obama(August 2010) it might be closer than people expect. Tarr is a whole lot more liberal than Brown is though, which may be both a benifit and a curse.

    But a wounded Democratic nominee+unpopular second term Patrick+unpopular second term Obama+a popular Brown+ decent Republican could produce an interesting outcome.

  9. a feeling Scott Brown is going to say one of these days that if he wins reelection to the senate and the GOP captures the senate in 2012, Massachusetts will have a seat in the table in the McConnell majority. Basically he’ll argue that by having one senator from each party, Massachusetts won’t be left completely out in the cold ever.

  10. Now it is more obvious still. The poll tell the people want Joe Kennedy II. If the DSCC give not to the people Joe Kennedy, many people get not interested in the change.

    By one side I glad after this poll, because I see there is some chance. 40%-45% mean troubles for a Republican incumbent in a R+12 state.

    By the other side it is sad because J Kennedy tell he is out. Despite that, I keep still a little hope because T Kaine tell not before, but now is running.

    My conclussion is so obvious. The recruitment is very important here. The DSCC needs to hear to the people. Or J Kennedy change his mind about a bid (and the result of this poll should help) or the Democratic Party will have very low chance of win this race in 2012.

    And this is a key race for the DSCC. The Democrats can keep the majority in 2012 despite lose here, but likely not in 2014. Surely is necessary to win MA-Sen in 2012 for keeping the majority in 2014.

    Until now, to have J Bingaman and J Kennedy out are the worst failures since the point of the recruitment this cycle. For J Bingaman there is viable replacement running, but for J Kennedy we see not the same.

    I think this poll put a lot of presure over J Kennedy. He is the hope. He fail in 2009-2010 running not. He will fail again? With him in the race I see easily a tie in the next poll for this race. If not, we will follow by the same way.

  11. This is my opinion, and I’m sticking to it all the way till November 2012.  It’s a strong one, and pulls no punches.  Deep breath.  

    Regardless of what any polls say, the fact is this.  Barack Obama is going to push over 60% in his re-election in Massachusetts.  Scott Brown will have to win roughly 20% of the Obama electorate while retaining all of the Republican nominee’s votes in order to win.  

    That…in this day and age of polarization…is impossible.  We saw this play out in reverse throughout the rural midwest and southeast last year when the Democrats got drilled.  It’s the same principle here – no republican is going to win solidly democratic areas during a year with presidential turnout, in a year in which any one race could flip the Senate majority.  Ain’t…gonna…happen.  Once all these democrats and democratic-leaning independents find out about every line item of Scott Brown’s voting record, and about the potentially huge magnitude of this race, they’re going to switch and vote democrat.  Period.

    The Democratic nominee, whoever it is, assuming they campaign hard, raise money, debate, yada yada yada, and don’t make ridiculous errors on the campaign trail, will piggyback behind Obama, who will carry them across the finish line to a victory.  End of subject.    

    1. to be anything other than acceptable and able to make the case that Brown is more conservative than he’s letting on. I’m not sure any of them are that bad, just, as others have said, nothing special. But if none of the Reps. are good, there’s Tim Murray, Alan Khaze, and Sonia Chang Diaz.

      Also, what’s wrong with with Patrick?  

  12. And you can certainly beat a Republican in a deep-blue state during a presidential year.

    Otherwise known as please keep Rep. Capuano away from this race.

  13. William Weld comparisons kicked to the curb (none of the Democrats here are even a fifth as strong as John Kerry ’96), I can’t really fathom Brown losing if he’s above 55 percent approval. I mean, the D field here kinda blows. I’m not the biggest Brown fan in the world, but even I would probably vote for him over Capuano or especially Patrick. I suspect something like 53-46 here.

  14. 18+ months out.

    It looks like we’re about to have a government shutdown. It remains to be seen exactly what share of the blame is going to go to whom, but I’m pretty confident that Massachusetts voters are going to be less likely to give the Republicans the benefit of any doubt going forward. That is more House than Senate, but the answer to that is “Imagine how much more damage the GOP could do if they had the Senate too.”

    Wisconsin and Ohio and Indiana are happening. A lot of swing voters in Massachusetts are union folks. They may not be especially liberal and a lot of them say or have said nice things about Brown. It shouldn’t be THAT hard to persuade many of them that the entire Republican party has declared war on organized labor, and keeping Brown in the Senate gets them one step closer to a Senate run by implacable enemies, even if Brown somehow doesn’t qualify as one himself.

    Obama is going to carry Massachusetts, and the GOP nominee is probably not going to bother campaigning there. The 2008 vote was 62-36, and I can’t picture the GOP nominee improving more than a point or two (Obama didn’t overperform there like he did in many states) on that showing, leaving Brown to need to beat the national ticket on the same ballot by double digits. I don’t see 14 points of ticket splitters in this political climate.

    But the Massachusetts Democratic Party isn’t used to competitive races and isn’t very good at them.

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