The World Turned Upside Down
posted at 8:48 am on January 20, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
You can be forgiven for thinking this looks more like Louisiana than Massachusetts:
Scott Brown upended politics in both the Bay State and on the national level in winning a Senate seat from Democrat Martha Coakley by a five-point margin. Brown becomes the first Republican to win a Senate seat since 1972 — and that was a re-election by an incumbent. This was a special election to fill the so-called “Kennedy seat,” and the result is a clear repudiation of the Kennedy legacy, at least on health care.
Rasmussen conducted the only thing resembling an exit poll after media outlets failed to anticipate a tight race. The data shows that even though Coakley ran a poor campaign, when she bothered to run at all, that was at best a secondary reason for her political demise:
Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters in the state say health care was the most important factor in their voting decision. Brown made it clear in the closing days of the campaign that he intended to go to Washington to vote against the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats.
Twenty-five percent (25%) of Massachusetts voters say the economy was most important.
Forty-seven percent (47%) favor the health care legislation before Congress while 51% oppose it. However, the intensity was clearly with those who are opposed. Just 25% of voters in Massachusetts Strongly Favor the plan while 41% Strongly Oppose it.
Fifty percent (50%) say it would be better to pass no health care legislation at all rather than passing the bill before Congress.
Looking back, 30% say the bank bailouts were a good idea. Thirty-four percent (34%) say the same about the auto industry bailouts.
In other words, even in the bluest of blue states, where the entire Congressional delegation consisted of Democrats until 10 pm ET last night, voters have rejected the Obama agenda. Fifty-six percent of Massachusetts voters say that health care was the most important factor in their voting decision, and Brown got at least 52% of the vote by campaigning on his explicit promise to block ObamaCare.
But this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Two months ago, we saw the same exact dynamic in Virginia and especially New Jersey. Democrats lost big in both states, but pundits were reluctant to draw conclusions from it. Virginia, it was said, was always a center-right state that merely came home after a poor candidate (Creigh Deeds) ran for Governor. In New Jersey, that argument didn’t fly as well, as the Garden State elects Republicans to statewide office only slightly more often than Massachusetts. Barack Obama campaigned there as well, and delivered almost the same result as Coakley got in Massachusetts — a solid loss to a Republican who had not won a statewide office before Election Day.
Take another look at the map, and remember that Barack Obama won this state by twenty-six points just fourteen months ago. He won New Jersey by double digits and Virginia by eight. On the anniversary of his inauguration, which is today, the message is very clear: Obama has no coattails in the midterms. Chris Cillizza reports that Democratic political gurus are making that clear to their clients:
Congressional strategists had warned in the closing days of the Massachusetts Senate race that a Coakley defeat had the potential to trigger a series of retirements within the Democratic ranks as members flee a political wave that could wash out dozens in the House and high single digits on the Senate side.
“My message to my clients? Jump ship now,” said one Democratic operative who advises a number of targeted Members of Congress. “Obama can’t help you.”
It’s not just that Obama can’t help Democrats — he’s killing their political prospects. His own approval ratings are plunging, and his agenda is so toxic that Democrats can’t run on it in Massachusetts and win. And if that agenda can no longer play in the bluest of blue states, where can Democrats feel safe by sticking to it? Certainly not in Indiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, or even California.
Twelve months ago, few would have predicted that Obama could dissipate the goodwill and support of the American people before giving his first State of the Union address. No one can ignore this lesson like they did with New Jersey and Virginia. Democrats are in deep trouble — and an insistence on staying the course on a radical agenda that turned Massachusetts red and Brown will end the Democratic majority in the House just as it ended the Democratic sinecure of the “Kennedy seat.”