I have been watching with great interest, the campaign for the January 19th special election to fill the senate seat held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Online, of course, as the major media seem to have just assumed Democrat Martha Coakley will walk away with it.
But the first Rasmussen poll is consistent with what on the ground reports there have been: there's a great deal of interest in the Republican Scott Brown, and he may just pull off a win. If he does win, he says he'd vote against the health care bill.
Rasmussen is the first major polling organization to poll the Massachusetts Senate special election, and the "pre-released" poll numbers show Martha Coakley (D) with just a 9% lead over Scott Brown (R), which would be consistent with other polls. This post will be updated with further analysis once the official numbers are released. [See Update No. 2 below - official results released - Brown within 2% among people who definitely will vote and has a large lead among independents.]
This is better than I expected for Brown. Coakley has been a statewide figure for years, and has much better name recognition, SEIU and other union support, and the Massachusetts Democratic machine behind her. Obama won the state by over 20%, and Coakley should have had at least a mid-teens lead at this point.
But as I have noted, Coakley's tactic of acting like the election already is over may be backfiring. While Brown was hitting the pavement the past three weeks, Coakley took a six day vacation. Wrong message. Coakley is ducking a one-on-one debate with Brown. Wrong message.
Thomas Lifson adds:
What goes around comes around, even in Massachusetts. One the oldest dirty tricks in Bay State politics is to run someone with the same name as a popular pol to siphon away votes from your opponent. It just so happens that a man named Joseph Kennedy is running on the Libertarian ticket in the Senate race, and could well draw brain dead Democrats away from Coakley. There certainly are enough of them in Massachusetts to make a difference in a race as close as this one is shaping up to be. The often delightfully arch website Hillbuzz notes that Coakley is alarmed enough to change her position on a debate:
Until recently, Martha Coakley, the Democrat in the race, has been refusing to do any debates for the special election insisting, "I've already won this, there's no point in wasting any time debating. I'm on vacation."
But, suddenly she had a change of heart - but only if Joe Kennedy was allowed to debate too. She did not want to appear with just Scott Brown alone. That tells us two things:
(1) Martha Coakley is a crazy person, because have you seen Scott Brown? We'd spend time alone with him anytime, anyplace, twice on Sundays. That man is Hottie McAwesome in our book.
(2) Martha Coakley wants a chance to tell Massachusetts voters that Joe Kennedy is not one of "THE Kennedys", the ones that cover up murders and rapes and treat Massachusetts as their personal fiefdom.
We think Coakley's been quietly polling in secret and believes enough voters will be confused and muscle-memory vote KENNEDY on January 19th that she needs to come out and force Joe Kennedy to say on radio and television that he's not a member of the "American royalty" Kennedys.
Given the malaise afflicting Democrats and the enthusiasm powering conservatives, it is barely possible that Brown could win. If that were to happen, it could rock American politics.