The Private Intellectual
Ecclesiastes-Based Real Estate Advice


Friday, January 15, 2010  

MA-Senate

Reading the insider quotes, it looks like Democrats are in trouble at least as big as the public polls are suggesting. A lot of liberal hand-wringing on the blogs has been capped with something like "I still think we'll win," but my growing hunch is that such talk reflects a combination of habit (Ted Kennedy's seat!) and optimism bias. For whatever my little predictive capability is worth, I'm inclined to say that the race would go to Brown were the voting held today. Until I see polls saying something to the contrary, I'm staying pessimistic about Martha Coakley's chances.

From one point of view, this reflects exactly the tactical problems the Democrats have faced in this particular race. The voters picked a dull candidate, the party hierarchs took it for granted, the turnout operation was flat-footed, etc. There's not a whole lot to be done, at a national level, about that. With (as I suspect) liberal dollars flowing to Haiti and Limbaugh dollars flowing to Massachusetts, these problems may be even worse in these last few days than expected.

From another point of view, this situation underscores the futility of all that time spent by the Senate Finance "Gang of Six" trying to spring a bipartisan bill. It was not only never going to happen, it was such an eventuality that the GOP strategy was meant to make possible. All those weeks of negotiating for nothing. It's a shame, really.

From yet another point of view, this obviously augurs poorly for Democrats coming up for election in November. If health care passes, the story will be out of the news and the national conversation can move on to other subjects. If it fails because of Scott Brown, it will fade out of the news after leaving the impression that Democrats are ineffective losers. If I were defending a seat this year, I know which outcome I'd prefer.

On the other hand, with both liberals and union voters feeling screwed, this is about the worst moment to be running as a Democrat anywhere. From that point of view, things can only get better. I have no hope that the economy will rally soon enough to keep us from losing a lot of seats, but I have some hope that moving the agenda forward will help rally the base, put up some small but important victories, and give Democrats something to run on later this year. That's not a matter of election results, it's a matter of political will. We'll find out soon if it's there.

posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 11:49 PM
Comments: Post a Comment
archives
links