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A new poll today shows Democratic candidate in the Massachusetts Senate special election Martha Coakley leading her Republican rival Scott Brown by a mere nine points, leading some to think the unthinkable: could a Republican have a chance at Ted Kennedy's Senate seat? Commentators and political analysts are scrambling to parse the numbers, which began filtering through in pre-release buzz last night:

  • Polls Good: Does GOP Get Involved Now?  "This is better than I expected for Brown," says law professor and blogger William Jacobson, calling the poll "just the latest evidence" that "Brown has a chance." Here's the question: "Will the national GOP, which has ignored Brown, get involved now?"
  • Good Question  "So far he hasn't gotten much (er, any?) help from the national Republican party," writes Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit. "I imagine that will change, if only because people like William Jacobson are asking [about it]." Reynolds reminds readers that the close polling is "huge given that it's Massachusetts, and a Brown win would probably kill healthcare."
  • Brown Should Hope GOP Stays Put--At Least in Rhetoric  "Although a 9-point margin--or closer--seems entirely possible to me," writes analyst Nate Silver, "Rasmussen has arrived at that number in something of a strange way." He also contends that if "the national parties start throwing some money into the contest ... then you have Democrats playing the Teddy Card and Republicans nationalizing the race and talking about killing a bill that Kennedy fought his whole life for; that's not a winning formula in Massachusetts." So, while he admits there's likely "more upside than downside" to Republicans in "contesting the race," he adds the caveat that, "Brown could use Michael Steele's money, but almost certainly not his message."
  • Brown Should Hope for No More Polls  Brian Maloney at Save WKRO points out that if close polling is "plastered all over the news," it might increase Democratic turnout, while "low turnout is key to any Brown victory."
  • High Stakes  "Anecdotally," notes conservative The Weekly Standard's John McCormack, "the enthusiasm and momentum seems on Brown's side." Curt Shilling, former Red Sox pitcher, certainly seems to believe so and be doing his best to help it along: "If this state does the right thing," he writes on his blog, "elects Scott Brown, it will, in addition to being a comeback/upset of 2004 proportions, put a screeching halt to the Democratic party's fast tracking this country into an abyss ... This state can literally change the Nation in one day." But National Review's Jim Geraghty isn't so sure:
All of these anecdotes might make Republicans think that one of the upsets of the century is in the works. But I'd note a bit of counter-evidence: There's no way the national party committees on both sides don't know the stakes in this race, and so far, neither side has dumped much cash into this race ... Also, no one should forget just how steep a climb the GOP has in this race: If Republican Scott Brown doubles his number of votes in the GOP primary (145,465) and if Democrat Martha Coakley gets only the votes that she got in the primary (310,227) . . . Coakley still wins by almost 20,000 votes.

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