WBUR

What If Scott Brown Loses?

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown speaks during a campaign event in Milford on Thursday. (Steven Senne/AP)

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown speaks during a campaign event in Milford on Thursday. (Steven Senne/AP)

The polls are a bit discouraging for Sen. Scott Brown. An average of recent polls has him running behind Elizabeth Warren by 4-5 points.

That’s not a big margin, but a poll of the presidential contest in Massachusetts reveals the larger problem for Brown: The Suffolk poll has President Obama beating Mitt Romney 63-31. It’s no wonder that Warren has stapled herself to the president’s coattails.

Ordinarily, in a presidential race you’d assume that undecided voters would opt for the challenger since they already know the incumbent and apparently don’t support him. But in this state, voters are familiar with the challenger. The former governor can’t be called a “favorite son” if only 31 percent favor him. He is more like an un-favorite son-in-law. There will be many ticket-splitters, but if Obama wins 66 percent, Brown would need 1 of 4 Obama voters to prevail. That could happen in a parallel universe, but it’s unlikely here.

This is not a pre-mortem. Brown could still win. It’s not as if either candidate has obvious momentum for the final weekend.

But what if Brown loses? How will that be explained and what will be the consequences?

Both candidates spent a lot of money on ads, but it was news coverage and debates that seemed to have more impact. When there is such polarization in the electorate — with both camps resenting and demonizing the other — money can’t buy you love.

Brown lost some of his likability by being aggressive in debates and ads. He took a risk that he could force Warren to make mistakes that he’d then exploit in new TV spots. Instead, Warren increasingly put him on the defensive on issues like which party should control the Senate, certain social issues and his support of Romney.

Ironically, Brown made the same mistake that Obama made: They caricatured their opponents as con artists… but when the challengers showed up for debate and instead seemed mild-mannered and well-intentioned, the challengers won new support and bounced up in the polls.

It’s very difficult for a Republican to win statewide in Massachusetts. And in 40 years, only three Republicans have won reelection statewide — Gov. Bill Weld, Gov. Paul Cellucci and Treasurer Joe Malone.

To win statewide, it’s not enough for Republicans to be good leaders and run effective campaigns. They also need weak Democratic opponents to run bad campaigns.

Brown won his special U.S. Senate race because it was a “perfect storm” — a confluence of opponent gaffes and boiling issues in an anti-politics climate. But now, again ironically, it might have been a storm that cost him reelection. Hurricane Sandy, and the president’s response to it, stopped Romney’s momentum and made Obama’s coattails a bit longer.

If Romney loses the presidential race, there will be much finger-pointing in the GOP. Mittites will blame N.J. Gov. Chris Christie for making Obama seem more bipartisan and presidential. Christie supporters will blame Romney for being too conservative during the primaries. Conservatives will blame Romney for being too moderate and timid in the general. And Ann Romney will blame all of them for being insufficiently appreciative of her husband.

That probably would be the end of Romney’s political career. But what if Brown loses?

When Romney had momentum a week ago, one might have guessed that if Brown lost this Senate race he would be appointed to a high position in a Romney administration. Weld wanted to be ambassador to Mexico, and Cellucci served as ambassador to Canada. Perhaps Brown would like to be the ambassador to Bermuda.

Earlier, I speculated about the possibility that Sen. John Kerry might succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of State, and then there would be a special election for his Senate seat. If Brown loses this bid, he would be the most formidable Republican candidate. And he’d probably have enough money left over from this campaign to be the presumed favorite.

But here’s another possibility: If Scott Brown loses, he might run for governor in 2014.

Who would the Democrats nominate for governor? It’s so obvious, isn’t it? The popular state attorney general, Martha Coakley.

I hope that didn’t give you déjà vu. In Massachusetts politics, that happens a lot.

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  • janesoutham

    What if he doesn’t ?

    • Chaco52

      Nice

  • Steve Jones

    We will have an Obama rubber stamper named Elizabeth Warren. 

    • do_rand

      Like when she rubber stamped everything obama’s Treasury secretary (geithner) wanted to do?

      • Chaco53

        And her major accomplishment was the creation of another toothless agency to appease the electoral herd. Isn’t interesting that she has not run on her record? The reason is that Obama has done nothing to decrease the possibility of a future financial melt-down. Read Neil Borofsky’s book.He adores Liz, but comes to the same conclusion-we still have a “too big to fail” financial system that is going to fail, and soon. Unfortunately, Liz is a fraud.

        • do_rand

          Why is it toothless? Republican intervention to weaken and defund the agency, similar to their attempts to destroy the EPA. Haven’t a number of financial institutions paid fines or settlements to the CFPB for breaking rules? I guess it’s just gumming them.

    • jefe68

      That’s funny. I can say the same thing about Brown. He’s been in lock step with his regressive right wing part all along.

  • WatertownResident

    There are two (probably related) reasons that prevent me from voting for Senator Brown:
    1. He says he is an independent, however he is running on on the republican ticket. May it is naive a naive question but I have not heard a good answer; Why does he not run as an independent like either Angus King or Mayor Bloomberg? Since I have not why he is an independent but running as a republican, I am left to suspect that Senator Brown is not being straight.
    2. I am very surprised by how extremely right wing some of the other republican senate candidates are and I fear the consequences of them gaining control of the senate. As much as I would have preferred Mr. Brown over Ms. Warren because do I think Mr. Brown is a less polarizing, I cannot vote for Mr. Brown and give the republicans more votes (and god forbid, control) in the senate. 

    • Chaco52

      WR-I think the Globe, Warren and lefties generally have you scared, but I can understand why.On control of the Senate please understand that neither party will have the 60 votes needed to avoid fillibusters after this election. That means that there will be ongoing gridlock that demands we elect a moderate. Ms. Warren is not that candidate.It would be nice to see Brown come out as an independant, but in this election it would have been political suicide on many levels, the most obvious being the impossible financial mountain he would have faced to fund the campaign. 

      • Myeddanapudi

        I disagree. If Brown had done what Bloomberg did and broken with the Republican Party and run as an independent candidate, I would have voted for him and I do believe he would have had a better chance of winning than he does now. Bottom line is that voters can seen through a lot of BS and understand that neither of them is perfect and chose based on their wider context (I.e., the danger of a republican senate majority).

  • Sinclair2

    Then there’s Deval Patrick who could run for Kerry’s Senate seat.  Patrick said he would serve a full term as governor; however, people have short political memories.  Brown will have to choose between running again for the Senate or the governor’s seat. 

    Brown might have a better chance running for governor marketing his “regular guy” Hollywood image.  He could be seen as reletively harmless there.  I believe he would like the daily operations of being the center of attention, and frequent on camera publicity that goes with the governors job.  That’s how he and his wife make their living, being camera ready as local celebrities.

  • Randall

    Consider me one of the “1 of 4 Obama voters who will be voting for Scott Brown.  His bipartisanship is refreshing to see, and the vast majority of his votes have been right in line with my views.  

    • do_rand

      Didn’t he join a lot if filibusters and run/campaign as the potential 41st vote to filibuster obamacare? He has been part of the gridlock and worked against Obama. Brown did vote with his party less once it was clear warren was his challenger, but what do you think it will be like for the next four or five years before he starts thinking about re-election again?

  • jefe68

    The difference is that Mitt Romney is a con artist. The man has off shore accounts and by the way it’s just been revealed that he made millions off of a deal in a hedge fund with Delphi the main auto parts supplier for GM. It’s not a pretty story.

    Scott Brown is a very right wing Republican, period.

    Of and anyone who thinks he’s bipartisan is buying into a huge lie. The man has voted 97 to 98% with his party. That’s his definition of bipartisan?

  • Chaco52

    “The ambassador to Bermuda”? I thought you were the Republican surrogate? To answer your question, if Brown loses it makes him personally stronger. He can rightfully toss aside the “political experts” that directed the Atwater/Rove sttack strategy that undercut Brown’s good guy image.It will free him from the docile, make no mistake by taking a strong position approach he has followed in his abbreviated term(again bad political advise). And he, not the party determine his next move. Go right back at the Senate seat i).f Kerry is appointed and shoot for Governor if he fails(admittedly a tougher assignment, but Baker is the Repubs  best alternative, and what’s he going to say “I know I can win this time”?   

  • Circusmcgurkus

    Rather than speculate about what he will do next, why not just wait until Wednesday and ask him?

  • Sinclair2

    Martha Coakley’s image is that of a polite lady and as an accomplished, no-nonsense attorney general.  If she runs against Brown again, she’ll need some coaching on how to deal with his fast talking, street-wise campaigning tactics.

    If a large company were to choose between the two to lead a corporate legal department based on their legal experience, she would capture the position hands down.  In fact, Brown’s resume would not go beyond the initial first-read resume review.

    • razorfish

      Where was Martha Coakley when someone needed to prosecute political corruption in Massachusetts? Think Charlie Flaherty, Tom Finneran, Sal DiMasi, Dianne Wilkerson, Chuck Turner and the entire Probation Department, all of whom were prosecuted by the feds. Martha Coakley was either clueless or chose to look the other way. Then you have her inexplicable intransigence with regard to Gerald Amirault, whom she kept in prison well past the point when it was obvious that he was innocent.

      • Sinclair2

        Income tax violations, federal perjury, FBI corruption investigations, etc., etc. were out of her jurisdiction.  The good news is they were all caught.  This state has a great reputation for catching all the political bad guys going back to Nick Mavroules.

        Amirault: When the subject of his release came before Jane Swift, Coakley met with the victims (who were then much older) and she was convinced he was guilty.  Gerald Amerault’s case then became a political right-wing cause to be used as a baseball bat to clobber Coakley.  (So much for our justice system)  Ann Coulter and Dorothy Rabinowitz (Wall St. Journal) both wrote separate and nearly identical articles, almost word-for-word which included the Salem Witch Trials analogy.  They could have accused each other of plagiarizing, it was so close.

        • razorfish

          You seem to be saying that the several political miscreants I named above didn’t violate any Massachusetts statutes. You don’t really believe that, do you?

          Also, you seem to be saying that you believe the Amiraults were guilty and that Dorothy Rabinowitz is a bad person for having made the case that they were innocent. You don’t really believe that, do you?

          • Sinclair2

            You’re trying too hard to be clever. We don’t know what was said whenDemocrat Coakley met with the victims regarding the guilt of ONE of the Amiraults. It was enough to convince Republican Jane Swift.

          • razorfish

            I’m just asking what you believe.

          • Sinclair2

            Who I believe is Martha Coakley, along with Jane Swift’s decision. I’ll also include the late William F. Buckley’s casting off from the “National Review” Ann Coulter for her “mischievous” behavior (and lack of credability).

  • Birddog2012

    Er, pardon me but in 2012 when a Republican Senator voted an average of 90% with his party to upend the (modest) recovery from the worst economic down turn in modern history and to then refer to oneself as an ‘Independent’ or “Bipartisan” maybe why  Brown is about to lose his seat in the US Senate.

    Now its time, way past time in fact, to be thinking about what a truly Bipartisan Washington can do to help our wounded country heal and prosper…

    birddog

  • Kcnettles

    Wow. I can’t believe you characterize Brown’s problem with women voters as simply his being on the defensive about “certain social issues”. My voting female friends consider this a much larger matter than your word choice suggests. We shall see on Wednesday.

  • B.R Fly

    Brown cannot be sent back to the Senate. He has signed the Norquist pledge which means he NO LONGER WORKS FOR MASSACHUSETTS. He works for Grover. He supports the Blunt nonsense, but claims to be ‘for’ women. How EXACTLY, does that work???

    • Kathy

      My vote for Brown.    I loved the new mailing I received today.
      Brown Vs Warren.  I do not support her ideals.  Sorry Lizzy.
      GO BACK TO HARVARD YOU ELITIST.

      • Jasoturner

         What makes her an elitist?

  • Sinclair2

    Who I believe is Martha Coakley, along with Jane Swift’s decision.  I’ll also include the late William F. Buckley’s casting off from the “National Review” Ann Coulter for her “mischievous” behavior (and lack of credability).

  • Sinclair2

    Who I believe is Martha Coakley, along with Jane Swift’s decision. I’ll also include the late William F. Buckley’s casting off from the “National Review” Ann Coulter for her “mischievous” behavior (and lack of credability).

  • Jasoturner

    Thanks, Todd, for a pretty even handed assessment.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/LIFVHSJ7SRZ4HVPYBTQSQSN7XQ george p

    In a year you won’t even remember his name unless you look up the word obsequious in the dictionary. It will be there under his picture.

    • 0000000123

      like your name… please you wish he is not done yet stop thinking that you clearly do not know what you are talking about do you know anything about the goverments history and politics, he is a strong candidate and you are too ignorant and selfish to see that…wow 

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