Without having any idea how this race will turn out (I think there’s about a 25% chance Brown scores the upset right now, a 45% chance of a low-to-mid single digit race, and a 30% chance that the polls are just wrong, a la NY-23), I think these pre-mortems miss the mark. Ambinder’s analysis that this is nothing more than a freak special election misses the forest for the trees. In particular, it reminds me of analyses that Republicans were writing in 2008, after they lost special elections in Republican districts in IL-14, LA-6 and MS-01. Any one of those by itself wouldn’t seem that bad, but taken together, the message to Republicans was (or should have been) overwhelming: Very few districts are safe this time around. If this race is as close as Rasmussen and PPP are projecting, a lot of other Senators who think they are safe need to start running today as if they might lose, much as Martha Coakley did not…

Here, we have a virtually unknown state Senator who is promising to vote against the Democrats’ top legislative priority taking on a sitting Attorney General. Probably the closest analogue would be Kerry’s 1984 race, when he was a sitting Lieutenant Governor facing off against a conservative millionaire. Kerry won by ten points in the midst of the Reagan landslide. And let’s remember, a high-quality candidate in Mississippi (a state about as Republican as Massachusetts is Democratic), running in the best Democratic year in decades lost by ten points.

So if Scott Brown makes this a low-single digit race it will be unprecedented – and it will be a big deal.