“The independent voice of Massachusetts has spoken,” thunders Scott Brown. ” This senate seat belongs to no one person and no one party. This is the people’s seat.” This is the populist, anti-Washington voice that many in the GOP will emulate in November. As Brown thanks Sen. Kirk for “completing his work,” the cheer goes up: “Seat him now!” (The message is clear: enough with the political tricks.) Brown says his first call went to Ted Kennedy’s widow, and to the chagrin of many partisan,s Brown says he hopes to be a “worthy successor” to Kennedy. (He’s got a lot of Democratic constituents, so conservatives will forgive him the hyperbole.) He ran against the “machine” in D.C., he says (yup, populism is going to be big in 2010), but the people are the real machine. He’s advertising his daughters’ availability, teasing Obama about ragging on his truck, and challenging Obama to a pick-up game (with Brown’s daughter Ayla, a Boston College star, on the Republican’s team). Victory is fun and Brown is having a ball.
Brown is a telegenic candidate who just claimed a history-changing victory. He’s going to D.C. as a Republican rock star. We’ll see what he does with his opportunity.
UPDATE: He takes another swipe at Obama’s cracks about his truck. (“That’s where I draw the line!”) And he takes time to go after the Democrats’ health-care bill, which he says is not being honestly and fairly debated. He ticks off its many failings — Medicare cuts, the impact on the deficit, the special-interest deals, etc. “We can do better!” You can see why this candidate won.
Sarah Palin via phone on Fox says this is a “tidal wave.” She calls it a message against the status quo in D.C. “A referendum on the Left’s policy agenda,” she declares. The people are opposing a government takeover of health care and an intrusion in our lives. This is a “step in taking our country back.” She says she would have endorsed Scott Brown had he asked, but he “didn’t call in a lot of outsiders.” The Tea Party movement vs. the Republican party? She says she doesn’t look at those as opposing phenomenon. The Tea Party, she explains, is a small-government movement, which is compatible with what the GOP should be.
What she wants is to scratch ObamaCare. What does she think will happen? She says the people have to be “ever vigilant” to watch out for the parliamentary tricks. And Martha Coakley? Palin shows some good-humored empathy — she knows something about blaming a candidate in a tough year.
Liberal Palin haters should watch and listen to her now and then. Her delivery has become more polished and she is now able to make her argument succinctly. No wonder the Left is freaked out that she has a platform to refine her skills and build her audience.
Martha Coakley concedes. She has graciously given Scott Brown her congratulations. It’ll be hard in these circumstances to delay seating him, no? At some point the gamesmanship just doesn’t work.
And not to rub salt in the wounds, but sometimes a concession speech is the candidate’s finest moment (e.g., Al Gore). This deadly dull, rambling speech isn’t one of those.
John, you’re right that this is the hinge in Obama’s presidency. He can choose to plunge ahead, employ the parliamentary grab bag of tricks. and pass a bill the voters of Massachusetts couldn’t stomach — and the results will be swift and sure. Or he can adjust, moderate, and recalibrate his approach to governance. He has a bipartisan majority willing to embrace moderation, fiscal responsibility. and toughness in the war against Islamic fascists.
Now Obama has never faced a rejection of this magnitude — personal or political. Living a charmed life, he lacks both humility and the flexibility to revisit faulty assumptions. He will need both.
But the decision may not be entirely in his hands. The Democrats in Congress will need to absorb the Massachusetts results and consider: will they be next? If Massachusetts votes against the ObamaCare candidate, won’t their constituents vote against them as well in less Blue States? Obama may want to charge up the hill, but he may find the troops behind him thinning and indeed pleading to turn back. This is the moment at which not just the president but each and every elected member of the House and Senate must ask: do I listen to the voters?
When Barack Obama feels political pressure, he doesn’t go for conciliatory language. He becomes slashingly partisan, as he did, surprisingly, in his convention speech and as he did in announcing his push for health care. How he speaks on the hot-button issues that seem to have injured him badly — not only health care, but closing Gitmo, the New York trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the bizarre responses to Nidal Hasan and the Christmas Day near-mass-murder — will tell us something about his ability to adapt to real-world circumstances. Once again, I have to say, even if you oppose him, you have to hope that Obama hears this wake-up call. He is the president of the United States. He has done a great many foolish things, and has received immediate word that his foolishness is going to have parlous political consequences. This is really the moment that will tell us whether he can do more politically than get himself elected brilliantly.
Martha Coakley has conceded. The comfortable margin of victory is nothing less than a landslide. A remarkable result, following results in New Jersey and Virginia, which were themselves extraordinary. Coakley will be blamed, vilified, and sneered at by establishment Democrats. But make no mistake: this is a “stunner,” as Juan Williams put it. The series of drubbings in states hardly considered conservative strongholds is a signal that the country a year after electing Obama has had enough. Democrats can double-down, as Williams said, or save themselves and their party. The determination of the White House and congressional leaders to throw themselves over the political cliff may be undiminished. Obama’s Democratic troops may not, however, go willingly to their political deaths.
Finally, with 70 percent in, AP calls it for Scott Brown. The major news here isn’t just that Brown has won, but that he has won going away in what has to be judged, under the circumstances, a landslide on a par with the 20-point victory of the GOP candidate in the Virginia governor’s race two months ago.
Frank Luntz’s focus group — oh, come on, let’s play along — is telling him they are sending a message. They want politicians to govern from the center. A Democrat doesn’t like them ramming health-care reform through. A doctor complains there is no tort reform. And on it goes. Even the Martha Coakley voters don’t want to hold up Brown. It’s just not right.
…is that Orrin Hatch will write a celebratory song.
From Twittering David Wasserman at the Cook Report: “Cook Report does NOT officially call races, but if I were working for a network I would have enough #s to project: Brown Wins.”
This is a very important point, Jen, that Brown’s surge began with the response to the Christmas Day near-bombing. It indicates that the unease about Obama and the Democrats extends beyond economic uncertainty to issues of core judgment — can the president and his party be trusted to keep the country safe? If that question cannot comfortably be answered in the affirmative, even a popular health-care bill (and this isn’t one) wouldn’t save them from the judgment of the voters.
That’s what I asked a GOP insider. He says, “Nope. We are almost there.” We have 57 % of the vote in and Scott Brown has a seven point lead.
John King made an interesting observation: Scott Brown took off during the Christmas Day bombing incident and the candidates’ very different reactions to that incident.
UPDATE: CNN’s reporter says Democrats were shocked by the “rage” that has now turned against them. Did they not see the tea party protests? Ah, no. They were busy mocking. Did they not watch the two gubernatorial races in 2009? Nope. They were spinning. That’s why they’re shocked now.
Howie Carr on Fox News says that, based on suburban numbers and early returns, he thinks Scott Brown has this in the bag. The Democratic guru, Mary Anne Marsh, doesn’t argue. Marsh says the big lesson is that Democrats have lost independent voters. In 2010, she says, “unless you can win them back and redefine the terms of this debate,” Democrats are in trouble.
Scott Rasmussen has some election-night polling news of his own:
- Among those who decided how they would vote in the past few days, Coakley has a slight edge, 47% to 41%.
- Coakley also has a big advantage among those who made up their mind more than a month ago.
- Seventy-six percent (76%) of voters for Brown said they were voting for him rather than against Coakley.
- Sixty-six percent (66%) of Coakley voters said they were voting for her rather than against Brown.
- 22% of Democrats voted for Brown. That is generally consistent with pre-election polling.
Twenty-two percent sounds like a lot, but this is, after all, Massachusetts. We’ll see how those independents voted and whether that mysterious “enthusiasm gap,” which has bedeviled Democrats, is enough to put Scott Brown over the top.
Scott Brown is ahead 52% to 47%, with 5% of the vote counted. CNN commentators have discovered that independents are mad at Obama and don’t like ObamaCare.
Keith Olbermann is ticking through the polls and remarking on the Martha Coakley “free fall.” He is subdued, if not despondent, as he reviews the finger-pointing festival that has broken out among the Democrats. But Rachel Maddow is nearly catatonic. “It is remarkable to see the blaming going around,” she muses before a single vote is counted. “Something went wrong in the Democratic strategy,” she intones.
Now, the MSNBC folks know no more than the rest of them, but if the body language of loony liberals equates to vote totals, it’ll be a bad night for their favorite party.
“Campaigns and candidates matter,” says a White House unnamed flunky to CNN’s White House reporter. The polls are about to close, but the Democrats are spinning fast and furiously to shift the blame away from Obama, the Democrats’ agenda, and the rest of the Democratic leadership. They are scheming, we are told, to save ObamaCare if Scott Brown does in fact win. Dana Bash tells us that the Democrats are saying it is “unlikely” that the House will swallow the Senate bill. According to her, Rep. Bart Stupak says that option is a complete non-starter. It seems a Martha Coakley win is not anticipated.
At some point, will the Democrats stop scrambling to save the bill that’s dragging them all under and start listening? Stay tuned.
Linda, if logic rules the day and Obama takes the lesson of Massachusetts to hear,t then you are on the money. Certainly a course correction after a year in office is not unprecedented and would likely be welcomed by most voters. But all that assumes Obama and his congressional allies are amenable to reason and willing to listen to the electorate. That remains an open question. They didn’t, after all, take New Jersey and Virginia voters’ messages to heart in decisive gubernatorial losses for the Democrats in 2009. They ignored polling all year on health-care reform. So would a Scott Brown victory be any different?
Some Democrats are nervous it won’t be. ABC News reports:
Even before the votes are counted, Senator Evan Bayh is warning fellow Democrats that ignoring the lessons of the Massachusetts Senate race will “lead to even further catastrophe” for their party. “There’s going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this,” Bayh told ABC News, but “if you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up. . . It’s why moderates and independents even in a state as Democratic as Massachusetts just aren’t buying our message,” he said. “They just don’t believe the answers we are currently proposing are solving their problems. That’s something that has to be corrected.”
As many a nostalgic Republican has remarked during the Obama presidency, “Obama is no Bill Clinton.” By that, they are referring not to Clinton’s personal morals but to his ability to read the electorate, shift gears, and slide back into the public’s good graces. Maybe Obama has that capacity too, but his contemptuous attitude toward opposition and disinclination to hear bad news suggest otherwise. If Brown does pull off a Massachusetts Miracle, we’ll find out soon enough.
The best thing that could happen to President Obama tonight would be for Scott Brown to win the Massachusetts Senate seat. This may sound crazy, but hear me out. Americans had no idea when they elected Barack Obama that he would turn out to be not a leader but a shill for Nancy Pelosi’s and Harry Reid’s left-wing agenda. The president has let Pelosi-Reid dictate the terms of the economic stimulus package and health-care reform, and Americans aren’t happy with either. If Democrats lose their super-majority in the Senate, it will, at the very least, slow down the Pelosi-Reid legislative juggernaut and put Obama in a position to become more of the centrist many voters hoped he’d be when they cast their votes in ‘08.
It’s the model Bill Clinton adopted after the ’94 Republican rout. Health-care reform was almost Clinton’s undoing, as it is Obama’s now, but Obama and his advisers learned the wrong lesson from the failure of HillaryCare. It wasn’t the first lady’s (read White House’s) role that provoked the backlash from voters, but the government’s takeover of health care. Keeping Obama’s fingerprints off the bill isn’t enough to protect him from voters’ ire. Clinton had the right idea: abandon the Left. After the failure of health-care reform, Clinton made welfare reform and free trade his signature issues, with Republican help. If Obama loses that 60th vote in the Senate, he, too, will have to figure out an agenda that has more popular support — and that could redound to his benefit in 2012. A Republican victory tonight, along with big gains for the GOP in November, could end up saving Obama from himself.
Obama sold himself as the image of moderation and superior temperament. But there has been nothing moderate about his first year, and his temperament has turned crabby, irritable, and condescending. Perhaps that was always his disposition, but only on occasion did the mask slip (“Can’t I eat my waffle?” and his crack about Bible-clutching Americans, being two vivid examples). Some cling fast to the campaign persona. David Brooks insists that Obama “has created a thoughtful, pragmatic administration marked by a culture of honest and vigorous debate.” That would come as a shock to those whom he has vilified (the list includes Fox News and Gallup, remember) and the voters, who see an attempted government takeover of health care and a mound of debt. Indeed Brooks himself concedes:
Driven by circumstances and self-confidence, the president has made himself the star performer in the national drama. He has been ubiquitous, appearing everywhere, trying to overhaul most sectors of national life: finance, health, energy, automobiles and transportation, housing, and education, among others.
So perhaps Obama’s not so moderate after all. But the unveiling of Obama’s personality and of his policy goals has stirred the public, which, as Brooks concedes, recoils from “any effort to centralize authority or increase the role of government.” Unfortunately for Obama and his faithful pundits, that gives voters plenty to recoil from. Unlike Brooks, they no longer consider him “temperate, thoughtful and pragmatic.” His actions tell a different story; his policies reveal a radicalism and arrogance born of the belief that the federal government has nearly unlimited capacity to take over more and more decision-making authority and aggrandize more and more power.
There was an alternative for Obama, an alternative to this narcissism and aggressive statism. He could have governed as he campaigned. But he made a choice, and unless he reverses course, he’ll be judged on the results.