So let me tell you what my spitzfingergeful confides in me. That someone who is a reasonable conservative on economic matters and conveys reasonable character has a good chance to beat the anointed Democrat, who happens to be a run-of-the-mill Democrat.Maybe, maybe. There's right now little hard statistical evidence on the public record showing the pace of the race. A Public Policy Polling poll (I know, I know) could be coming up if enough people vote for the option to poll this race (a little less than a day left as of this writing).
Brown has already put himself out there as a tax cutter without really saying what spending cuts he would favor. This makes for a nonsense ledger. As it happens, I favor the Obama economic agenda, even something with a more egalitarian thrust. But I don't think Massachusetts does. The voters are scared.
Brown compares himself to John Kennedy in a just-released television spot. Well, the Dems have gone hysterical. This is a sign of their (incipient) panic. Maybe their panic is apt.
Still, there's some anecdotal evidence from Brown's campaign staff suggesting that there could be some significant Democratic disaffection with Democrat Martha Coakley (via Jim Geraghty):
Secondly, at the ground level we have seen an incredibly unique phenomenon occurring here. Without the benefit of polls, I would say Brown is causing quite a groundswell of support from Republicans, unenrolleds and even Democrats. Now when registered Democrats are expressing an interest to volunteer, we know something is up.Part of this may be campaign bluster, but it may also reveal a level of anxiety about the course Washington is headed on.
Martha Coakley may not be helping things by seeming to avoid contact with the media. As one magazine notes,
[W]e wanted to give Attorney General Martha Coakley the benefit of the doubt when her campaign staff was initially stand offish after we approached them about setting up an interview for our story on the race to fill Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat.
But then we were put off several times by her staff. We suddenly got the feeling Ms. Coakley, a Democrat, didn’t want to speak with us, and the media in general.
At the end of the day, it’s disheartening to think that a potential U.S. Senator for the Bay State would be so reticent to speak to the media. All we asked for was a 15 minute interview. What we got was a canned statement at the last minute. By contrast, we were able to set up interviews with her opponents — Republican Scott Brown and Libertarian Joe Kennedy — relatively easily.
One can understand why Coakley is doing this; she's taken the frontrunner strategy of trying to run out the clock. Avoid gaffes at all costs, smile for the camera, limit your exposure, and you can cruise to victory, so this strategy goes. However, this strategy risks making the frontrunner look complacent and may backfire, especially if the frontrunner isn't frontrunning as much as she thought.
It is clearly to Scott Brown's advantage and to the national GOP's advantage to make this race as close as possible. A victory would obviously be a huge boost for the political fortunes of the right. Brown would provide the crucial 41st Republican vote in the Senate, which could put the brakes on the current version of Obamacare and force Democrats to work in a bipartisan fashion for major legislation. His victory could be the harbinger of significant Republican wins in the 2010 Congressional races.
But even a narrow loss would provide both Brown and the GOP with many benefits. It would certainly make Brown, already a state senator, a viable candidate for other offices in Massachusetts. A close loss might also send a shockwave of worry though the national Democratic party. If, in Peretz's phrasing, a "run-of-the-mill Democrat" can't win Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in a walk, that could spell Trouble (with a capital "T") for Democrats. The closest a Republican has come to a Democrat in a Massachusetts Senate race within the past 30+ years was 8 points (the popular William Weld, governor at the time, versus John Kerry in 1996). A Republican loss in the single digits could be read as a significant blow indeed.
UPDATE: More information here.