Brown-Coakley: Pre-emptive spin

The polls close in around an hour. Assume Scott Brown wins. The spin from both sides should be pretty simple. GOP — This was a referendum on Obama. Dems — No, it wasn’t.

But just because it’s spin, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. So which side is right, or at least more right? Patrick warns Republicans not to pretend this has something to do with ObamaCare. Coakley ran a truly awful campaign, that’s why she lost.

But how do you take Obama out of the equation when Scott Brown ran his campaign as the 41st vote against ObamaCare?

Clearly, it’s hard to disentangle the factors. First of all, the economy is awful. Would a bad economy plus a bad candidate be enough to cost Democrats the seat Ted Kennedy held for 46 years, not long after Obama carried the Bay State with 62% of the vote?

My gut says there’s no way to explain the enthusiasm for Brown without looking at ObamaCare. If this were just the 56th or 57th seat for Democrats, would Republicans be seeing red? Would Democrats be pouring resources into Massachusetts? Would Obama himself gone up to campaign for Martha Coakley?

The White House clearly wants to present this as Martha Coakley’s loss, not Barack Obama’s. As MK noted, David Axelrod has already taken the unusual step of praising Brown for running a solid campaign. MK also points out that both Axelrod and Robert Gibbs have begun to sell the Massachusetts race as a reflection of the same voter frustration that brought Obama to office in November 2008.

That kind of spin is worthy of a record player.

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly