It’s worth pausing to consider how enormously high, in political and substantive terms, the stakes really are. If Brown wins, there’s a strong chance that health care legislation collapses, leaving the status quo in place in that industry and rendering the central initiative of Obama’s first year an unambiguous failure. Coakley’s victory will still, at this point, be a kind of a warning shot, but would ensure passage of a bill on which Obama has staked a lot.