Is Scott Brown likely to make a comeback and return next year to the U.S. Senate he will be leaving next month after losing a hard-fought race to Elizabeth Warren?
A new poll by the MassINC Polling Group has Massachusetts Democrats scrambling. The poll finds that if Senator John Kerry resigns to become secretary of state, Brown would be favored in the resulting summer 2013 special election over a generic Democrat by 47 percent to 39 percent. MassINC pollster Steve Koczela then matched Brown up “theoretically against (U.S. Reps.) Ed Markey, Mike Capuano, Steve Lynch and (former U.S. Rep.) Marty Meehan, and in each one of those cases, he led by between 17 and 19 points.”
One of the paradoxes of Brown’s defeat by Warren in November was that while he had a 60 percent approval rating among voters, almost a quarter of those who liked him voted for Warren. Two factors were in play. A surge of voters turned out for the presidential election and overwhelmingly favored President Obama, and some voters were influenced by the notion that Brown could provide the key vote to handing control of the Senate over to Republicans. Ideology did not appear to be an overwhelming factor. While 34 percent of voters thought Brown was too conservative for Massachusetts, even more (37 percent) thought Warren was too liberal for the Bay State.
Brown would benefit in a special election from the fact it would likely draw about 750,000 fewer voters than this November’s presidential election. His victory would also not be able to tip Senate control to the GOP. His approval rating in the MassINC poll remains high at 58 percent, and even among non-white voters he is viewed favorably by 48 percent. But the fact that he only wins about half of the vote against leading Democrats (there is a large undecided vote) shows he could easily be beaten if a Democrat runs a strong campaign.
Nonetheless, the weakness of the most likely Democratic candidates in a special election has prompted desperate calls from liberals that Edward Kennedy, Jr., the son of the late senator, enter the race. Kennedy, who has run a health-care nonprofit in New York, has never run for or held political office. He also happens to have lived and voted in Connecticut for years. While he would have instant name recognition and a vast fundraising network, his candidacy would play right into Scott Brown’s argument that the Senate seat shouldn’t be Kennedy family property, but instead belongs to the people.