The special election in Massachusetts next Tuesday to replace Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate has become more narrow than anyone could have imagined just a few weeks ago. Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general and Democratic candidate, was leading opinion polls by 31 percentage points as recently as mid-November. She won office as AG in 2006 with 73 percent of the vote statewide.
Now, Republican Scott Brown leads in three of the five polls taken in the past week. If he wins, he could be the 41st Senate vote against ObamaCare, effectively killing the current iteration of that deeply unpopular bill.
The rise of Brown, a state senator and National Guardsman, has been incredible. (Consider that he’s the No. 1 “Scott” on the Web according to Google’s suggested search terms.) According to this report, Brown raised $1 million a day each day from Monday to Thursday.
Now come reports that President Obama will go to Massachusetts on Sunday to campaign for Coakley. That didn’t work in Virginia or New Jersey last fall, and it appears that not everyone in the Democratic Party thinks it’s such a good idea now:
According to strategists familiar with internal polls conducted for Coakley’s campaign, the consequences of Obama’s visit could produce a net-negative effect on Coakley’s campaign.
Obama has a net favorable rating in MA [Massachusetts], according to public and private polls. A Suffolk Univ. poll out today shows 55% of MA voters viewing him favorably, while just 35% see him unfavorably. But the intensity of voters who view him unfavorably, or who disapprove of his job performance, is so high that an appearance with Coakley could bring out more GOPers ready to vote for Brown than it could Dems set on their nominee.
“Obama is radioactive in polls,” said one senior Dem operative who has seen the campaign’s internal numbers. “Every time they dropped his name in a poll, it was awful. So you just can’t take those kinds of chances.”
Obama as “radioactive in polls”: Who thought we’d hear that sentiment a year ago?