More proof Scott Brown can't win?

The Worcester Telegram, the daily newspaper in MA's 2nd largest city, has endorsed Scott Brown

Given the serious issues that face our nation, and the deep ideological divides that have riven Congress, we believe that state Sen. Scott Brown is the best choice to reinvigorate Massachusetts' voice on Capitol Hill....

Just to prove they are not some NewsCorp outfit, they are owned by the NY Times Corp. and previously endorsed both Barack Obama and John Kerry.

I'm sure this can and will be as easily dismissed as polling results , a deluge of absentee ballots in conservative parts of the Commonwealth, and a run on Scott Brown campaign signs.

I know that the Republicans are supposed to just roll over in the Blue States for politically correct lefties. I apologize if this script is not being followed this time out.

Evidence Scott Brown is Within Single Digits in Massachusetts

My initial post on Scott Brown drew a pretty good reaction, and this response from Michael Barone is a must-read. Barone argues if Republicans are able to seriously contest Massachusetts, and in a race where Democrats are the heavy sentimental favorites after the passing of Ted Kennedy, that could have a kind of terrorism effect on wobbly House Democrats that will force many more to retire, and inspire strong Republican candidates to jump into the race in blue districts. This could set the stage in a very nice way for November. 

Absent a scientific poll of the race, two recent bits of analysis suggest we may be headed for a close race on January 19th. 

The first is the "citizens' poll" being undertaken by Republican activists frustrated by the lack of recent polling. This shows Scott Brown ahead, and the methodology consists of randomly scouring the phone book in select areas. From the photo below, it's a hearty effort, but definitely homegrown: 

The results through New Year's Eve were Brown 241, Coakley 216, Undecided 63. A further 201 refused and 213 were left pro-Brown phone messages. That works out to a slight Brown lead of 44.6 to 41.5 percent among those who responded. 

But that comes with a big caveat: the areas polled were limited to Worchester and Cape Cod, with a little Quincy thrown in. These areas do not look like the rest of Massachusetts. In both Worchester and Barnstable (Cape Cod) counties, Obama defeated McCain by a margin of 56 to 42, or a margin 12 points lower than his statewide performance.  

Adjust the margin, and this would put Coakley 9 points ahead statewide. 

As a point in Brown's favor, there's no attempt made to screen voters in the survey. Essentially, it's a poll of adults, not registered voters, or even likely voters. In this environment, I imagine a likely voter screen would help Brown to the tune of about 5 points. Anecdotal information from their responses also suggests Brown voters are way more fired up about turning out: 

Many Brown supporters were enthusiastic and upbeat. Statements included: "What other choice is there 'but' Scott Brown?; "There's a lot riding on this"; "Our country is at stake."; and "God help us if we don't get Scott Brown elected."

To the contrary, Coakley voters seemed down, dull, and disenganged. Is it any wonder not one Coakley voter expressed optimism.

 This is valuable information. I wonder what such a poll done of 3-of-5 or better voters on the statewide voter file would yield. 

A second attempt to fill the void comes from RCP's Sean Trende, who looks at the composition of the electorate in Virginia and New Jersey compared to 2008, as well as the vote swing from Obama to McDonnell and Christie. If Democrats, Republicans, and Independents swing to the Republican Brown as they swung to Republican gubernatorial candidates in both states, that would make for an exceedingly narrow Coakley win of 51.1 to 48.9 percent. Though we are accustomed to thinking of Virginia and New Jersey as two distinct races, interestingly the final numbers suggest a rising tide lifting all Republican boats. In terms of vote spread, McDonnell performed 24 points better than McCain, and Christie performed 22 points better. A similar swing in Massachusetts would get Brown to within 2 to 4. 

I don't know that there is a scenario that would show Scott Brown ahead right now, but there are plenty of scenarios I could see that would show this within the margin. And conditions right now seem optimal: a fired up Republican / Tea Party base that is stirring beneath the surface, and a complacent Democratic Party. The question is what happens if a poll does show the race close? The campaign would then take on a whole new dimension. Will the entire electorate expand in a way that would likely benefit Coakley? Democrats will pull out the stops to nationalize the race, and would play the Kennedy card as they have so many times before. But without a Presidential race on the ballot, which is typically the only thing that can create downballot coattails, will it work? Is there a way that a close race could pull in more marginal Republican voters excited about the possibility about picking up a seat in Massachusetts without bringing out more Democrats, enough to close a 3 point gap? We'll know in 18 days. 

Full disclosure: As discussed in my previous post, my company provides some online services to the Brown campaign, but we're not involved in the campaign day to day. 

Fight Everywhere: Scott Brown for Massachusetts

Worcester Opening 052 by State Senator Scott Brown.

In the past 48 hours, the blogosphere has awakened to the cause of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. There hasn't been any recent public polling, but my sense is that a poll of likely voters would show Scott Brown within single digits of Martha Coakley, with those most likely to vote opting strongly for Brown. Perhaps the lack of polling betrays the conventional wisdom that Coakley would win in a rout, but maybe one of the more forward-looking public pollsters like Rasmussen or PPP will prove me wrong and poll this thing. 

The case for a Brown upset can be summed up as follows: A January 19th special election would likely skew the turnout universe more Republican than it ever would be in the Bay State. The race has received comparably little attention, so turnout is likely to be low, and a minor surge in Republican turnout could go a long way. 

Then there's the enthusiasm gap: we're already seeing Republicans far more likely to vote in 2010, even beyond the waning of the Obama-only 2008 young voter base. Republican enthusiasm is white hot right now, possibly hotter than it will be in November 2010, because of health care. 

And here's where the mammoth significance of playing in MA-SEN comes into the discussion: if Brown wins, Obamacare is dead. 60 becomes 59. Because Democrats will have lost the Liberal Lion's seat, whose photo stands in the Democratic Cloakroom with the words "Let's get this done." Any chance we have to take out the Obamacare abomination, however remote, is a fight worth fighting. The Senate is currently scheduled to come back into session on January 19th, the day of the Massachusetts special election. Harry Reid could move this up if it looked like Brown could win, but he'd have to get a conference done, pass it through the House, and then get it through the Senate. Not likely. And not before Republicans would scream bloody murder. 

Then there is a bit of recent electoral history. It's true that Massachusetts has deserved the mantle of the most Democratic state in its recent history. But that Democratic loyalty is not quite as strong as it was. Massachusetts is now within two points of California in Presidential partisanship, handing Obama a 26-point win to California's 24 points. In California, a larger and more diverse state, we are talking about a possibly competitive Senate race with a recent history of electing Republican governors. Let's also remember that Massachusetts Democrats are not Obama Democrats. Despite the blessing of Kennedy and Kerry, Obama lost the state by 10 points on Super Tuesday. In October 2007, Republican Jim Ogonowski came within 6 points of beating Niki Tsongas in the MA-5 special, and that was in a bad political climate for Republicans. And a final point that bears remembering: Massachusetts has a Cook PVI of D+12. In a strange low-turnout election scheduled during the winter months, Joseph Cao won LA-2 in a D+25 district. Martha Coakley may not be stashing cash in the freezer, but weird things happen in special elections (as NY-23 also showed us). And an extra, final point: in a sleepy, low-turnout special election in CA-10, that no one believed Republican David Harmer could win and which attracted minimal support from national Republicans and the blogosphere as everyone was focused on Doug Hoffman, we came within 10 points. The Cook PVI rating of that district was D+11. That could have been a lot closer with extra resources and political capital spent. 

All in all, taking a calculated risk in MA-SEN is worth it. Nobody doubts this is an uphill fight, but I don't want to be the guy who decided not to take a stand only to find out that we lost by 6 on election night when everyone assumed the Democrat would win running away and didn't fight. 

In full disclosure, my company provides some online services to the Brown campaign, but I'm not privy to their decision making process nor did I consult them about this post. I do know that people are uncharacteristically fired up about this race and that enthusiasm has followed a hockey stick trajectory in the last 48 hours. It's not out of the question that Brown could raise another half a million dollars online between now and election day, with a moneybomb planned for January 11th. But it's up to us to get the job done.

MA SEN: Survey USA - Ogo commanding primary lead - Kerry's re-elect number under 50%

Giving John Kerry a race is going to be a lot of fun. -Patrick

Jon Keller is reporting that a new Survey USA poll shows Jim Ogonowski with a commanding lead over Jeff Beatty 60-14.  It also shows John Kerry with some general election weaknesses.

If he can manage to squeeze out enough certified signatures, Dracut hay farmer Jim Ogonowski will start off with a big name-recognition boost from his run in the Fifth Congressional District special last year and a 60% to 14% bulge over Jeff Beatty. (Full disclosure: my adult son, now communications director for the Massachusetts Republican Party, worked on Ogonowski's 2007 congressional campaign.) With 26% undecided, that lead could fade fast; it'll vanish altogether of Ogonowski can't get on the ballot, an unpardonable organizational sin.

With all due respect to the game but hapless Republicans, the real issue is: are the voters sick of John Kerry? By a too-close-for-comfort 48% to 42%, they say he deserves to be re-elected. And the biggest warning sign for Kerry is that 49% of the voters say he "spends too little time on Massachusetts issues." Only 36% say he "spends about the right amount of time." This is a longstanding complaint about Kerry that he has been trying for years to dispel, with mixed success, apparently. It is far and away his most significant political weakness, exacerbated over the years by unflattering comparisons of Kerry's DC output with that of the king of federal-grant rainmaking, Ted Kennedy. I hate to say it, but the need to make up for the potential, hopefully avoidable loss of Ted's clout could be very much on voters' minds come November, forcing Kerry to make a more persuasive case to voters here that they really are job #1 for him.

Ogonowski will be on the ballot.  When he is I'll give an update and ask you all to donate a few dollars.

MA-SEN: Ogo Off the Ballot?

UPDATE: EaBo Clipper from Red Mass Group responds saying Ogonowski should be fine.

Not good, if it pans out:

When the deadline for certification passed yesterday, Jim Ogonowski, the Republican leadership's choice to challenge US Senator John F. Kerry, was 82 signatures short of qualifying for the GOP primary ballot, according to the state's central voter registry.

But Ogonowski's campaign aides contend there are enough certified signatures at various town offices around the state not filed yet on the computerized registry to put him across the 10,000 threshold. ...

Even if Ogonowski does get the 82 signatures he needs, his fight probably is not over.

Election specialists say he will not have the needed cushion of extra signatures to insulate himself from legal challenges.

Ogonowski's only primary opponent, Jeff Beatty, is expected to challenge the validity of his signatures before the ballot law commission.

I like Ogonowski. I worked with a coalition of bloggers to raise $20,000 for his MA-5 special campaign last fall. Back then, he had a kick-butt volunteer operation and a ton of grassroots energy. It's at least a little mystifying that this is such a close call. Stuff like ballot access should not be a close call, not for a guy who's already on the air.

Read on.

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