Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Party Loyalty?

Many online "progressives" have begun cataloging the supposed woes that the nationalization of the Massachusetts Senate race has brought upon Scott Brown's campaign. E. J. Dionne kicks it off:
Brown was running well as an insurgent who was somewhat disconnected from the national Republican Party. Conservatives, Republicans and tea-party types were already mobilized to vote next Tuesday. Democrats were asleep. All the national attention to the race now gives Democrats a reason to vote. Brown does better as an independent-minded outsider than as someone who is now recast as part of Washington's partisan battles. He is trying gamely to preserve his independent image, but that has become harder, and the Democrats' advertising is aimed at tying him into the Washington Republican Establishment.
I'm somewhat skeptical of this view and have written about the benefits of attention to Brown: that he would need to appear competitive in order to have a shot at being competitive. The appearance of being competitive would indeed center Democratic attention on this race, but that attention might be the price of actually winning it. Moreover, I've suggested the value of Brown connecting himself to national issues as a way of raising his profile in the race.

Democrats have themselves been gamely trying to attach Brown to the centralized Republican bureaucracy, but have to contend with the fact that it is Martha Coakley, not Scott Brown, who is attending top-dollar partisan fundraisers in Washington, DC.

Kos picks up on this nationalization theme in an interesting post, but he offers this odd claim:
On the other hand, that conservative support has come at a cost. Among other things, Brown has had to promise to be the 41st vote against health care reform. The teabaggers demand ideological purity, and he's had to deliver.
Kos almost seems to phrase this opposition to the current version of health-care reform as some major concession to the lunatic right wing. When a broad majority is not in support of the current version of Obamacare, stating one's intention to filibuster it is hardly an act that defines one as an ideological purist (how many approve of Obama's handling of health-care? 35%).

This opposition in fact is perhaps one of the major draws for independents, who are increasingly dissatisfied with the Democratic Congress and the current health-care proposal.

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