What do you do when you take a poll and find your opponent in stronger shape than you imagined? You release the poll.
That’s just what the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee did yesterday.
The poll in question surveys the attitudes of Massachusetts voters toward their new US Senator, Scott Brown (R). The poll shows Brown running well ahead of any likely Democratic challenger.
In fact, he’s the most popular politician in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with an approval rating of 73 per cent. To top it all off, his “re-elect” score is comfortably above 50 per cent, which is unusual for a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.
It seems odd that the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee would release results like these, helpful as they might be to Sen. Brown’s fund-raising efforts (and to the detriment of his Democratic challengers). But it actually makes sense.
First of all, national GOP money goes where it’s needed, not where it’s wanted. If Scott Brown is in trouble, he’ll receive a lot more early national GOP money. If he’s not in trouble, that money will go elsewhere.
Second, the poll sets a very high standard for Mr. Brown to maintain. If his approval rating begins to drift downward (as it inevitably will), reporters will write that his campaign is “losing altitude” and/or that “momentum seems to be shifting to the Democrats.”
Third, Massachusetts really is an overwhelmingly Democratic state. The race will tighten. We rate it as a toss-up simply by virtue of its political complexion. President Obama won Massachusetts in 2008 with 62% of the vote.
Running for virtually any office in Massachusetts as a Republican is uphill. Brown’s poll position now looks very strong. It will look a lot less so in 16 months.
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