The “Kennedy seat” attitude isn’t helping

posted at 8:48 am on January 15, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The impulse was so obvious that Republicans in Massachusetts wondered what took Democrats so long to indulge it.  Everyone knew that Vicki Kennedy, the widow of late Senator Ted Kennedy, would eventually make a public pitch for Martha Coakley as the true, legitimate heir to the “Kennedy seat.”  What no one could have predicted is that it would backfire (via Jules Crittenden):

Big-name Kennedy endorsements for Martha Coakley appear to have been little help to the Democrat in the U.S. Senate race – and may have even hurt her with some voters, a new Suffolk University/7News poll shows.

The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s widow, Vicki, and nephew Joseph Kennedy II gave the attorney general their official blessing last week.

But of the 500 voters surveyed, only 20 percent said the Kennedy family nod made them more likely to vote for Coakley, and 27 percent said the endorsement made them less likely to support her. …

“For independents, it doesn’t appear to have a positive effect. In fact, it may have had a negative effect,” said David Paleologis, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

They apparently were looking for a little Change, and perhaps some Hope, too — that the voters could actually select their own Senator without the presumption that it was reserved for royalty, or the nobility’s hand-picked successors.  Part of the problem may be the timing.  Vicki Kennedy didn’t endorse anyone during the entire special-election cycle until two weeks before the election — and then only when Coakley began to look vulnerable.  The whiff of desperation is not usually a political aphrodisiac, even in Massachusetts.

After last night’s big shocker in the Suffolk poll showing Brown up by four points, even with a Democratic sample of +24, Pajamas Media’s new poll in the state puts Brown up by … fifteen points?

A new poll taken Thursday evening for Pajamas Media by CrossTarget – an Alexandria VA survey research firm – shows Scott Brown, a Republican, leading Martha Coakley, a Democrat, by 15.4% in Tuesday’s special election for the open Massachusetts US Senate seat. The poll of 946 likely voters was conducted by telephone using interactive voice technology (IVR) and has a margin of error of +/- 3.19%.

This is the first poll to show Brown surging to such an extent. A poll from the Suffolk University Political Research Center – published Thursday morning by the Boston Herald, but taken earlier – had Brown moving ahead by 4%. …

1. Thinking about next Tuesday’s special election for US Senate. The candidates are Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley. If the election were today, who would you vote for? If Scott Brown press 1, if Martha Coakley press 2. If you are undecided press 3.
1. Scott Brown 53.9%
2. Martha Coakley 38.5%
3. Undecided 7.6%

Phone-IVR polls are a tricky business, and I’m not aware of the track record of CrossTarget.  They have a partisan gap of +16 for Democrats, with 43% independents.  That may seem a little low for Democrats in Massachusetts, but +24 is probably too high.  Barack Obama beat John McCain in 2008 by 26 points after getting an extraordinary turnout and much more Republican crossover than Coakley will have in this election.  If I had to guess, I’d put the registration gap somewhere around +20 and Democrats at a higher percentage of the population than 36%,  but put the turnout model closer to what CrossTarget shows in its poll.

The Washington Post is already setting up Coakley for the fall:

The seeds of the drama that could see the Senate seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy slip to Republican control began to sprout during what is traditionally the quietest week on the political calendar.

“Things began to change the week between Christmas and New Year’s,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, a strategist for insurgent Republican Scott Brown. “That’s the week we put our JFK ad up.”

The commercial, which aired for only five days, depicted John F. Kennedy, the Democratic congressman who 58 years ago ran an insurgent campaign to capture the Republican-held “Cabot seat,” morphing into Brown, the obscure state senator who surveys suggest might do the same with what’s become known as the “Kennedy seat” when grumpy Massachusetts voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

But although the audacious spot was ripe for challenge — the tax breaks JFK trumpeted were the calibrated adjustments of a committed Keynesian, hardly a philosophy embraced by Brown — not a peep was heard from the campaign of Martha Coakley. Having won the Democratic primary by remaining the aloof front-runner, the state attorney general was not about to engage with a Republican whom the latest poll showed trailing her by 30 points.

“Not a bad strategy, by the way,” Fehrnstrom acknowledged. “But when the shift in voter mood and opinion takes place, and you fail to catch it, then it becomes a disaster. And I think that’s what happened with her. I think she did not sense the movement in what they should have known was a very volatile electorate.”

Get ready for the spin: Coakley was a bad candidate — it has nothing to do with national policy.  You’ll be hearing that a lot if Brown wins on Tuesday, and it’s at least somewhat true.  Coakley is a bad candidate.  But even bad candidates win elections in Massachusetts, as John Kerry’s continued presence in the Senate demonstrates.  There’s a lot more going on here than Coakley’s incompetence, and every Senate Democrat that has to vote on ObamaCare knows it.

If ObamaCare gets a Republican elected in Massachusetts, what does that mean for Democrats in Arkansas?  Nebraska?  Indiana?  Pennsylvania?  We may not need Brown as the 41st vote against cloture by the time the polls close on Tuesday night.


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ted c on January 15, 2010 at 10:52 AM

And, Scott, about that Birth Certificate…….

jay12 on January 15, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Coakley’s a bad candidate, Deeds was a bad candidate, Corzine another bad candidate?
Obama endorsed them all.
I thought he had the good judgement. Remember Judgement to Lead?
Leading them to defeat!

lonestar1 on January 15, 2010 at 11:12 AM

IF Brown wins, John Kerry is going to shit his pants.

GarandFan on January 15, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Damn, right. His number is soon to be called too. *paging john kerry, please clean out your desk, the people of Massachusetts have submitted your retirement*

ted c on January 15, 2010 at 11:14 AM

Obama throwing out the referendum challenge just makes me feel like they know its in the bag and they are just trying to frame it. He isn’t taking a risk like that if there is a chance it backfires.

tflst5 on January 15, 2010 at 9:34 AM

I think we have heard these same words before, this Summer in a matter of fact. They were spoken when a group of Chicagoans and the President of the US when to make a bid, give the magic touch, to what was the 2016 Olympics.

Obama came back empty handed and showed he can make very bad calculated risks, when most thought his going made it a lock.

WoosterOh on January 15, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Obama’s online ad speaks volumes how he doesn’t want to be tainted. But he will anyway. These elections and Democrats losing in solid Blue states are a referendum on Obama’s policies. Eventually, they will all be a referendum on Obama.

conservative pilgrim on January 15, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Boston Globe: Race is in a spinout

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/01/15/race_is_in_a_spinout/

Read the comments. Bostonians are hammering Chokely.

Geochelone on January 15, 2010 at 11:32 AM

IF Brown wins, John Kerry is going to shit his pants.

GarandFan on January 15, 2010 at 10:56 AM

John Kerry: Reporting for Diaper Doody.

Geochelone on January 15, 2010 at 11:38 AM

This is reminescent of the exubrent confidence in NY’s 23rd when polls showed the conservative pulling off the upset. !5pt’s? No way!

This an outlier residing somewhere in the vicinity near the Klingon/Romulous border, in a distant galaxy far, far, away. And just as fictional.

I am following this race on tenter-hooks because I beleive ObamaCare lives or dies on its outcome. And most certainly hope it is the latter.

If Brown were to win it would HUGE! If he were to win by more than 4-5pt’s it would seismic indicating that Haiti has less to do to recover than the DNC. The catastrophe in Haiti is heart wrenching and I hope that assistance to releive them is speedy. But if the DNC were to find itself in the disarray Port Au Prince finds itself, I would be overjoyed!

The point is, is that effort must not let up now, determined resolve must be employed with every fibre of our being to accomplish the task at hand. Both, in Massachussets and in Haiti.

Archimedes on January 15, 2010 at 11:40 AM

I wonder if the Massachusetts legislature was too clever by half when they changed the law to allow Patrick to select Kirk as interim Senator? Would they have been required to hold a special election sooner based on the old law? If the election was held sooner, there may not have been quite the level of voter angst in Massachusetts with the federal government that there is now and it may have been easier for a D to win.

Well of course they were too clever. If they hadn’t decided to game the system in 2004 none of this would have happened. (Since Kerry lost they had nothing to worry about back then. Under the old law Barry Lite would have picked somebody to serve out the rest of Kennedy’s term and that’d be the end of it.) Hell, if they were going to be so blatant about gaming the system what they should have done is wait until after the 2004 election. If Kerry had won first have Kerry hold off on resigning the seat. Then try to shove the new “People have to elect the replacement” law and only after that have Kerry resign. (I mean they were completely blantant about it then and now so I don’t see why not if they were that over the top.)

Dave_d on January 15, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Coakley must be holding the Kopechne family’s endorsement in reserve until Monday.

SKYFOX on January 15, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Go Scott, GOOOOOO!!!!

Seven Percent Solution on January 15, 2010 at 12:03 PM

Go, Mr. President. Challenge that nameless Brown into the debate! Show to him and to the people of MA how bright you are in Harvard way!

Show Brown who’s the boss!

Take the drive seat Mr. President! Use your magic tounge … err. lips. Show how Good the Obamacare is! Tell the people that Coakley’s vote “still” an essential element for the success of your Obamacare, especially next 3 months!

Go to the Bay State, Mr. President! Take a brave heart, Mr. President! But if you’re daunting, use all your ACORN and DNC machines, Mr. President! Or Let Axelrod oversee the management of Coakley’s campaign!

Teh Won, Obama the Genius, for the Win!!!!

VICTORY … VICTORY … JUST LIKE IN NJ and VA!

TheAlamos on January 15, 2010 at 12:28 PM

I wonder if the Massachusetts legislature was too clever by half when they changed the law to allow Patrick to select Kirk as interim Senator? Would they have been required to hold a special election sooner based on the old law?

reallyfive on January 15, 2010 at 9:36 AM

It’s more than that. There’s also a backlash effect. All that crap is a big part of what turned the electorate against the D political machine, and probably is giving Brown 10-20 percentage points.

MassVictim on January 15, 2010 at 12:30 PM

This is GREAT news for ALL Americans!

And if the Obamateur-in-Chief does decide to visit Massachusettes to “prop up” Ms. Coke-lie, I hope the Tea Partiers show up en masse to show him what they now think of his Hopey/Changey smokescreen that bamboozled a naiive electorate.

Maybe we should call Scott Brown’s election run “reverse Hopey/Changey”.

Sweet_Thang on January 15, 2010 at 12:31 PM

I am en route to Massachusetts right now to man a post on the front line of the Scott Brown revolution! Join up if you can!!!

t.ferg on January 15, 2010 at 12:37 PM

From my sister who lives in Boston, they are fired up!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nEoW-P81-0

txmomof6 on January 15, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Ironically, the timing of Ted Kennedy’s death may be what kills his legacy agenda item, just as it is about ready to cross the finish line. This all seems so providential as it unfolds, huh AP?

Relax, God is in control. <>

exdeadhead on January 15, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Regarding the Congress rushing through with a vote on whatever in hell they’re cobbling together as the “final bill” — the Senate is still on break and is not scheduled to re-adjourn until early next week, if I recall their schedule correctly.

ya2daup on January 15, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Brown wins on Tuesday; The Unprecedented will “celebrate” his first year in office and his “solid B+” performance the next day. The juxtaposition of these two events will illustrate how far and fast his god-like status fell. Oh, the irony!

ya2daup on January 15, 2010 at 12:55 PM

There’s a lot more going on here than Coakley’s incompetence, and every Senate Democrat that has to vote on ObamaCare knows it.

But is it ObamaCare? There has been more news recently about the Obama administration’s incompetent response to muslim terrorism. And surely a policy of effete responses to terrorism is scarier than European style medicine.

thuja on January 15, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Relax, God is in control.

exdeadhead on January 15, 2010 at 12:46 PM

amen!

cmsinaz on January 15, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Everyone knew that Vicki Kennedy, the widow of late Senator Ted Kennedy, would eventually make a public pitch for Martha Coakley as the true, legitimate heir to the “Kennedy seat.”

Some talk about some things being pre 9/11. That is so pre 1776.

What no one could have predicted is that it would backfire

Au contraire. Why a child of 5 could have predicted that and with the greatest of ease. Massachusetts was one of the 13 original colonies and surly they weren’t all Royalists on the side of the British.

MB4 on January 15, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Brown Scotts –NOT– Brown Shirts

ted c on January 15, 2010 at 1:11 PM

txmomof6: That massachusettsmiracle video is awesome! Thanks for sharing!

texgal on January 15, 2010 at 1:16 PM

If Brown wins it will be reminiscent of the battle at Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard ’round the world

MB4 on January 15, 2010 at 1:20 PM

I think that the Dems may have a secret ‘Karl Rove’ in the background. Knowing that they will get clobbered by their base for NOT passing health care reform in the way the hard left wants and that they will get clobbered by the general population if they do they came up with a brilliant plan.

Run an idiot! When she loses, you rally the base to help defend against this Republican assault and you now have protection against actually passing anything more that a first step towards the takeover. You can drag a couple RINOS into bed with you long enough to set the stage for later. You tell your crew that you did your best but the Republicans stopped more meaningful reform and the Republicans lose momentum and become dispirited when something passes anyway.

At least that will be the story if this actually comes about. It was all a plan. That’s right, a plan.

OBQuiet on January 15, 2010 at 1:24 PM

For to long the Kennedy’s had a death grip on the seat because the good old boys kept scratching each others backs.
That reign is over. People who owed them something have died and moved on! Now comes the real CHANGE.

SgtRed on January 15, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Kinda makes me want to rent “Weekend at Bernie’s” for Tuesday night.

yoda on January 15, 2010 at 1:41 PM

When things like this happens it makes me think that us conservative do have it wrong when we call the dems socialists. I almost wonder if we need to come up with a new term to explain the dem attitude.
Levin calling them ‘Statist’ comes close. They do believe in the government first model. But they don’t think the rules apply to them. Not just dems but the elected class and those they work with.

Now when I look up the definition for ‘Aristocracy’ i get:

1. a class of persons holding exceptional rank and privileges, esp. the hereditary nobility.
2. a government or state ruled by an aristocracy, elite, or privileged upper class.
3. government by those considered to be the best or most able people in the state.
4. a governing body composed of those considered to be the best or most able people in the state.
5. any class or group considered to be superior, as through education, ability, wealth, or social prestige.

Now since the elected class includes (R)’s we can’t just call it an ‘aristocracy’ it should really be called a ‘Demostocracy’ since they only view dems as able bodied to dictate laws on the citizenry that should work to support them.

lwssdd on January 15, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Hey…Look! They’re throwing donk gang signs!

Blake on January 15, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Coakley’s a bad candidate, Deeds was a bad candidate, Corzine another bad candidate?
Obama endorsed them all.
I thought he had the good judgement. Remember Judgement to Lead?
Leading them to defeat!

lonestar1 on January 15, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Those 3 are no worse than most of Obama’s Cabinet and White House staff, including the plethora of czars.

lwssdd: I think we could call most of the incumbents aristocracy. The term, sadly, accurately describes how most of the folks in Congress feel about themselves.

hawksruleva on January 15, 2010 at 5:09 PM

Deep in my heart I think it is Health Care.

Obama apparently decided he had to get a lock on Healthcare before the Kennedy throne was filled

To get it Obama had to promise union members would be exempt from a national income tax imposed on everyone.

For the unions to get their members to go along and release their bought votes in Congress, the union leaders had to make a public announcement of a reverse bill of attainder, this is a law that criminalizes anyone who breaks the law, except for those persons who are declared exempt from the law because they gave money or favors to the President or his party

Anyone not in a union just got screwed

This is becoming the new way to write law under Obama.

Announce a bill. Amend bill to exlude from liability any and all who bring money or favors

Gergen’s stupidity, and Croaker’s low IQ were icing on the cake. A perfect storm

entagor on January 15, 2010 at 6:06 PM

I really hate to sound so pessimistic but I will believe in a Brown victory when I see him make his acceptance speech. The voting game in Massachusetts is fixed and that means Coakley wins. Obama is stumping there on Sunday because she has the votes. He’s not going there to look like a loser who supports an absolute buffoon even though he is. If she didn’t have the votes Obama would be standing in the rubble in Haiti for a nice photo op (a la Bush WTC) and it would put him as far away as possible from Boston so he can use it to deflect from the democrat butt-kicking on Tuesday night. Obama is incredibly calculating. It pains me to sound so cynical but you all know it’s true. The fix is in. She wins. Sorry guys. I wish and hope I’m wrong but…. Voting in this state resembles Iranian style elections more than any state in the union (except for NY of course). In fact, Brown might have a better chance of winning if he was campaigning in Iran.

ranzofola on January 15, 2010 at 8:52 PM

Wasn’t the Kennedy seat any female within 15 miles?

dthorny on January 16, 2010 at 1:39 AM

If Brown wins it will be reminiscent of the battle at Old

North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard ’round the world

MB4 on January 15, 2010 at 1:20 PM

That gave me goosebumps! Thanks for the reminder of where we’ve been; it gives me hope that we might yet be able to shake off the chains of tyranny the left is attempting to forge for us now.

mcc4 on January 16, 2010 at 1:59 AM

The “Kennedy Seat” must be thrown off the bridge at Chappaquidik. It is the peoples’ seat, and so is every other congressional seat.

After the good people of MASS vanquish Coakley, they should shove Lurch John F’en Kerry back to the mansions he married into.

Cleveland Steamer on January 16, 2010 at 8:37 AM

Obviously the Good People of Massachusetts, like most Americans, are just sick and tired of the Kennedy’s.

ronnyraygun on January 16, 2010 at 9:26 AM

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