In particular, based upon his voting record in the Massachusetts State Senate as well the Votesmart surveys of MA state legislators (include his own from 2002), I estimate that Brown is to the left of the previously leftmost Republican in the Senate, Olympia Snowe of Maine … and to the right of the rightmost Democrat in the Senate, Ben Nelson of Nebraska… Just as important, Brown stands to become the pivotal member of the Senate—that is, the 60th least liberal (equivalently, the 40th most conservative)–a distinction previously held by Nelson…
Scott Brown is a politician, not a kamikaze pilot. As David Mayhew argued in 1974, the first and proximate goal of politicians in the United States is to get re-elected. Brown will have a far harder time in 2012 against some credible, seasoned Democrat who won’t get surprised again (or run so badly). Turnout will be higher in that presidential year, meaning the Democratic base will be far more evident at the polls. And the Democrat will get to ride Obama’s coattails, influencing independents in the Democratic direction. And Brown doesn’t have that many years to build up the incumbency advantages that other freshman Senators get. He won’t have brought home as much bacon, and he won’t have risen too far in Congress.
Translation: Scotty B’s a Republican — an orthodox one on most issues, in fact — but if you want to have any chance of holding this seat long-term, you’d better be prepared to cut him some slack. Re-read that second paragraph in the blockquote as often as you have to until it sinks in. I think he’ll be a reliable vote on national security, partly because of his military background and partly because “more rights for terrorists!” ain’t winning the Dems any elections even in Massachusetts. But he’s going to have to throw a few votes to The One to preserve his electability, likely starting (but certainly not ending) with Supreme Court appointments, so let’s make peace with the concept now.
I think he’s going to have a relatively easy ride from the Republican base. He’s a likeable guy, he preaches federalism and fiscal responsibility, he undermines the media’s “southern wingnut” narrative about the GOP, and, oh yeah, he’s singlehandedly stopped ObamaCare dead in its tracks. He’s a Judd Gregg Republican, essentially — who just happened to figure out a way to win Ted Kennedy’s seat and give grassroots conservatives their biggest (only?) thrill since Bush beat Kerry. Lots of goodwill in the bank here. Lots.