Why Is the Massachusetts Senate Race So Close?

Next week's vote to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat has a lot riding on it, and the race is unexpectedly tight

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Most polls still show Democrat Martha Coakley ahead of Republican Scott Brown in the special election to fill Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat, but the race is surprisingly tight. With only a week to go (the final debate was last night), it appears unlikely but very much possible that Brown could close the gap. Massachusetts, as we've learned, may not be Republican-proof, and the Mass locals are all up in arms about the choices. This, after all, is no idle race -- the outcome could have major consequences for health care reform. But, in a time of deepening partisan divides and a beleaguered Republican party, the question looms: why is the race in deep-blue MA so close?

  • Coakley's 'Sense of Entitlement'  Conservative blogger Dan Riehl scoffs, "Coakley approached the race with a mindset of entitlement. And a sense of entitlement is the last thing Massachusetts voters, or any one of us should want to see more of in the US Senate right now." He describes Coakley as "apparently believing the seat would be awarded her based upon the capital D for Democrat after her name."

  • Brown An Incredible Fund-Raiser  National Review's Robert Costa cheers on Brown's campaign, which raised over $1 million in a massive drive on Monday. "Many Republicans have pitched in: To help Brown out, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty both sent out fundraising appeals on his behalf," he writes. "The new money gives Brown the cash he needs to take to the airwaves, especially since Coakley already has a strong war chest after raising $5.2 million in 2009."
  • Massachusetts Not So Blue After All?  So argues the state's former Republican Governor Mitt Romney. "Massachusetts is not as monolithic a liberal state as people think. Massachusetts voted for Ronald Reagan twice, elected the Republican governor 16 straight years. And right now, there's a lot of anger in Massachusetts, among independents in particular, about the Obama health care plan," he said on Fox News. Romney also suggested that MA voters are more skeptical of health care reform, having had mixed experience with Romney's state-level reforms.

  • Obama Not Campaigning for Coakley  President Obama has made clear he's rooting for Coakley, but has yet to campaign on her behalf. Conservative blogger Allahpundit wonders why. "[A]n aide from the DNC is headed to Massachusetts to lend Coakley a hand, but The One himself has decided to take a pass this time. Is that because they know victory’s in hand and don’t need him on the trail, or is it because they think victory’s not in hand and the White House doesn’t want to repeat the humiliation of Obama stumping for losers like Corzine and Deeds on their way to defeat?"
  • Democrats In Trouble?  Time's Jay Newton-Small thinks Democrats should be worried about 2010. Regardless of the result, "The bigger scare is how hard fought the contest became. Even if Coakley wins comfortably now, this past week was a major warning shot for vulnerable members who will surely have taken note at the amount of investment and energy it took to retain the seat," he writes. "In other words, whatever happens, the big takeaway from the race will be: if Teddy's seat isn't safe, no one's is."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.