Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Massachusetts is a very blue state. This is a presidential election year in which the Democratic incumbent is likely to win (and is popular in the state). And the Democratic Senate candidate is doing a very good job of raising funds.

And yet Elizabeth Warren is no more than neck-and-neck with Scott Brown in the polls. On paper, you'd think she'd be crushing him.

She's not crushing him because he's really good at pretending not to be a Republican:

Senator Scott P. Brown posed for pictures with President Obama two days in a row last week, smiling as Mr. Obama signed two bills that Mr. Brown co-sponsored. Never mind that he is a Republican seeking re-election in a season of strident partisanship. Mr. Brown is on a mission to persuade the voters of Massachusetts that he is as independent as politicians come.

...Mr. Brown has been actively courting women: he recently visited a shelter for victims of domestic violence, called for women to have combat roles in the military and announced a Women for Brown committee with Senator Olympia J. Snowe, the moderate Maine Republican who is retiring at year’s end....

It's working:

In a Boston Globe poll released last week, 57 percent of respondents said Mr. Brown was the most likable candidate, compared with 23 percent for Ms. Warren. Asked which candidate was best able to work with the opposite party, 49 percent chose Mr. Brown and 27 percent Ms. Warren.

That's why Brown leads Warren by 2 in the same poll. (I include the "likable" number because I think it's a sign that a lot of Massachusetts voters think Brown isn't a nasty, ideological hard-ass.)

However, if you look at Brown's fund-raising pitches, you get rather less likable prose, along these lines:

[Warren] is a far-left ideologue and her liberal friends from across the country are helping her: She has the Harry Reid Democrats, the Hollywood Crowd, the Far Left Juggernaut, the Occupy Wall Street Bunch, and the Massachusetts Machine raising money hand-over-clenched fist.

... if she wins, she will take her place among the most ardent leftist ideologues in the United States Senate.

(See the whole letter at Charlie Pierce's place.)

And, of course, everyone forgets -- everyone, in fact, failed to notice at the time -- that a fundraising slogan used in Brown's last campaign was the not-very-likable, not-very-post-ideological "Red Invades Blue":

Warren's struggle in this race is going to be to get voters to believe that Brown is the guy from those fund-raising pitches.  She needs to persuade voters that Brown, if he's reelected, will vote as a Republican most of the time, and will empower the Republican Party all of the time simply by holding the seat for six more years. In the state that elected Mitt Romney, and the region that elected Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, that's going to be a tough sell if you're running against a guy who's good at pretending to be something he isn't.

In 2006, in neighboring Rhode Island, voters did get it -- they liked Lincoln Chafee a lot, but they defeated him because they believed it was important not to continue empowering the GOP in the Senate.

Warren should probably just run against the GOP rather than against Brown. It would require a lot of voter education and thus would be difficult to pull off, but it might be the shrewd move.


BH said...

I must admit, it's sourly reassuring to be reminded that electorates besides mine in Tx need a lot of voter education.

Anonymous said...

I think that all those Mass voters need to be reminded that a vote for Scott Brown is a vote to let the Bay State be at the mercy of every Southern Republican asshole who drawls out a sneering "Taxachusetts" and who quite literally hates them.

Rugosa said...

I'm a Masshole, and I often say that if this is the most liberal state in the Union, we're in big trouble.