The last time the late Senator Ted Kennedy had a bit of a challenge was in 1994, when he faced off against Mitt Romney. Kennedy ended up winning pretty solidly, in what was a watershed year for the GOP.
Romney went onto serve a term as governor, before flaming out in his run for the 2008 GOP nomination.
It’s presumed that Romney, a former private equity boss, wants to run for President again, so should he try for the vacated Senate seat?
Nate Silver tells him not to even think about it:
A Survey USA poll conducted in mid-November 2006 put the outgoing governor’s approval rating at just 34 per cent, against 65 per cent disapproval. This poll does not particularly seem to have been an outlier. A Boston Globe/University of New Hampshire poll in late October, 2006 also had Romney’s approval numbers in the red — 34 per cent of likely voters had a favourable impression of him and 54 per cent an unfavorable one — and polling conducted throughout 2005 (before Romney announced in December of that year that he would not seek a second term) showed him as many as 16 points behind his prospective Democratic rivals. Voters had evidently had enough of the guy.
But wait — it gets worse. Voters not infrequently cross party lines to vote for governor — 18 of the 50 states (36%) currently have a different party representing them in the governor’s mansion than the one they cast their vote for toward the Presidency last November. But that’s true for just 22 of 100 Senators. Voters recognise that Senate is a national office and governor is a local one: they’re less likely to vote for a Senate candidate from the “wrong” party since they know that, once he gets to Washington, he’ll be under enormous pressure to toe the party line, in a way that a governor who is not part of a larger constituent body might not be. Yes, quite a few people have made the cross-over before, including some in unfriendly territory (Ben Nelson of Nebraska is one case in point). But these instances are becoming rarer as the partisan divide in the country grows more extreme. And that would seem particularly to be the case for a candidate whose only reason to run for the Senate would be to help him defeat a Democrat for the Presidency in 2012 or 2016.
Plus, there’s the question of how Romney would position himself. Is he going to revert back to being pro-choice, and pro-civil unions again? He probably can’t win the Senate seat unless he does. But he probably can’t win the Republican Presidential primary unless he doesn’t — particularly on the abortion issue. While I think it would behoove Romney to run slightly further to his left than he did in 2008 — a lot of conservatives aren’t going to vote for him anyway between his religious affiliation and the likely presence of Sarah Palin in the Republican primaries — that would be taking things to extremes.
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