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

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  • http://www.themoderatevoice.com Patrick E

    Coakley camp talking vote fraud… could be bad exit polls.

  • everheardoftheconstituttion

    Death to Socialist Healthcare! There's hope for this country after all!

  • JSpencer

    Nope, not when it's spelled like that. Next…

  • SailorBob

    I actually agree that this is a continuation of what brought Obama to office. People went against party to pick both McCain and Obama in the primaries. This is the voters of Massachusetts going against the party line also.

    http://betabob.wordpress.com/

  • DLS

    There are two lessons here — with the Dems and the entire mainstream, and with independents.

    Both are worth reviewing because it's not premature to do so at all (though far lefties will resent it).

    Boxer-B-Gone, ohhhhhhhhhhh, yesssssssssssssssssssssssssss…

    “The close race to replace Ted Kennedy, liberalism's patron saint, shows that voters are rebelling even in the bluest of states against the last year's unbridled pursuit of partisan liberal governance.

    The real message of Massachusetts is that Democrats have committed the classic political mistake of ideological overreach.

    The lesson of Mr. Obama's lost first year is that an economic crisis is a terrible thing to exploit. As they have each time in the last 40 years that they have had total control of Washington, Democrats are proving again that America can't be successfully governed from the left. If that is the lesson Mr. Obama learns from Massachusetts, he might still salvage his Presidency.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB200014240527487

    “Independent voters—typically centrist, white and working-class—backed President Barack Obama and the Democrats in 2008. But Massachusetts is now the third Obama-won state in the past three months where independents have swung decisively Republican.

    Polls in the days leading up to the vote suggested the lead for Republican Scott Brown came about largely because of his advantage among independents over Democrat Martha Coakley.”

    “In Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans won governorships in November by winning independents by two-to-one margins. In all three states, polls showed that independents were anxious about the economy and the rising jobless rate, with health-care a less important issue.

    Democratic strategists worry the numbers paint a gloomy picture for the party in states with competitive House, Senate and gubernatorial races this year where independent voters will hold sway, including Colorado, Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio. Massachusetts could also be problematic again in November, when Gov. Deval Patrick is up for re-election amid dropping approval ratings. If the tide is not stemmed, unexpected blue-state contests could also erupt for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) and Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240527487

  • Almoderate

    ick to no delete button.

  • Almoderate

    Not necessarily death for health care reform– not yet at least. Though I doubt the Dems will get it together, they could still have the House pass the Senate bill (which already passed) with the promise of another bill to smooth out the kinks later on.

  • DLS

    “Not necessarily death for health care reform– not yet at least.”

    Not at all. That's because the Dems have a general strategy that should work for them, and that's in addition to the fact (see below) that people distrust current legislation to make things better. (There is no doubt disenchantment with the Dems in the figures, but also with the kind of reform, and it must include poor views by those who want much more than what is being sought currently.)

    The general strategy is for the Dems to toss aside the farther-left lunacy, and effectively replay last year — the timing is just about right, the end of January, roughly a year since the Dems had all the power — that is, essentially redo most of what they already have done so badly and wrongly; or, that is, do it right, or at least do it better and hopefully well, this time.

    This means a sound-minded stimulus and health care reform legislation solely aimed at reform. No excess. No other pet left-wing causes (climate-politics legislation, immigrant amnesty, card check).

  • DLS

    There will remain dissatisfaction with health care even after expected legislation is passed. See here.

    The childish people moaning that it would be another generation before any prospects of change of the system, if an effort failed last year, never were right. This is not 1993-4, and people are probably much more amenable to real reform, that doesn't threaten to make their prospects worse, now than ever before.

    “The survey finds that with the health care debate at a crucial stage, more people continue to generally oppose (48%) than generally favor (39%) the health care bills before Congress. Opinion about health care legislation has been stable in recent months.

    In assessing the personal impact of health care legislation, relatively few say they expect their insurance coverage to improve should the measure become law. Fewer than half (39%) say their ability to get health insurance with a pre-existing medical condition would get better if the legislation becomes law; fewer (33%) expect they would be better able to obtain insurance if they change jobs or lose their job.

    Views of the legislation’s potential impact on the cost and quality of health care are even more negative. Pluralities say their out-of-pocket health care costs would get worse (40%) as a result of the legislation, while the same percentage says that wait times for medical appointments would get worse. Regarding the quality of health care they receive and choices of doctors and hospitals, pluralities expect no changes as a result of the legislation (41% quality of care, 40% choice of doctors). However, about twice as many people expect that these and other aspects of their own health care would get worse, rather than get better, if the proposed changes become law.”

    http://people-press.org/report/578/

  • DLS

    More here. Dems need to become safe and sane, not scare independents and others away.

    “Given Americans' frustrations with the health-care system, a surprising number say they are willing to live with the status quo, rather than risk something that might be worse. Nearly half of those surveyed—48%—said passing the current legislation would be a 'step backward,' while just 42% called it a 'step forward.' And more than half—53%—said they are more concerned that lawmakers will go too far and make the system worse than they are concerned that political leaders won't do enough to make the system better.”

    “It's not that Americans don't understand what the legislation aims to do. Two-thirds think the legislation would succeed in helping people with pre-existing conditions get coverage, and in covering the uninsured—two key aims. But cost is a big fear, with majorities predicting that both the deficit and taxes on the middle class would get worse as a result of the legislation—despite projections that the plan would pay for itself by slowing the growth of costs and raising taxes on upper-income families and health industries. Just under half said the legislation would make health costs worse, compared with 33% who said costs would improve.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240527487

  • kathykattenburg

    My gut says there’s no way to explain the enthusiasm for Brown without looking at ObamaCare.

    That's because it's a Republican gut. :-)

  • DLS

    Course correction, Washington! Make that maneuver — make Kathy's day.

    http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/Image

  • Anna

    the timing is just about right, the end of January, roughly a year since the Dems had all the power — that is, essentially redo most of what they already have done so badly and wrongly; or, that is, do it right, or at least do it better and hopefully well, this time.

    You know…I'd almost agree with you on this IF, and this is a b-i-g IF, the Republicans would actually be a party of good-faith negotiators and would participate compromise vs. obstruction. Needless to say I'm very skeptical on that. Compromise means that the Republicans would not get everything they want and it seems to me that they'd rather see themselves as the ones to (attempt to) sink Obama's presidency vs. actually trying to solve any of the country's problems by working with Democrats.

  • DLS

    “Needless to say I'm very skeptical on that.”

    I am, too. What if the GOP believes it has just had its role as the opposition revived?

    I say the Democrats should proceed and do things right this time, this year, because I believe they would remain favored by voters overall if they did this. If they provided bulletproof legislation (stimulus that's directed at economic recovery rather than buying votes in individual districts and states; a health care reform bill that is limited to reform, perhaps some assistance that is similar in effect to what's in the stimulus), they might even have Republicans work with them. If not, they probably would be supported by the voters. It would certainly be refreshing from just gross over-spending and vote-buying, floundering, dabbling with left-activism, and doing other than the major things that were promised originally. Who knows, it might leave Obama in a position to get the Dems to do entitlement reform. (OK, it's safe to presume GOP cooperation if things ever progressed that far, which is to say, getting quite idealistic.)

  • DLS

    “redo most of what they already have done so badly and wrongly; or, that is, do it right, or at least do it better and hopefully well”

    Note that it would show with deeds, not just words, that they learned the lesson in Massachusetts.