He’s still got it—in the polls, anyway.
Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., a potential top Democratic target in the 2012 election cycle, still beats the world when matched against five prospective challengers from the opposite party. He shows low negatives, picks up a quarter of Democrats, and 53 percent of voters call his views “about right” in a survey released Thursday by Public Policy Polling—a Democratic Party-affiliated group.
Though Massachusetts proved a rare bright spot for Democrats this year—the party swept statewide and congressional races—no one has yet challenged the charismatic and well-funded Brown. The senator provided the first indicator of the national wave building against President Obama's party when he won a special election in January for the seat that Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy occupied for 47 years until his death. As of the end of September, he had nearly $6.8 million in his campaign coffers.
Gov. Deval Patrick, who outdistanced expectations to claim a six-point reelection last month, and Vicki Kennedy, widow of the late senator, came closest to Brown in the PPP survey. Patrick trailed Brown 49 percent to 42 percent, and Kennedy 48 percent to 41 percent.
Trailing by wider margins: Rep. Edward Markey, the dean of the Bay State's congressional delegation (10 percent); Rep. Michael Capuano, who lost in the 2009 Senate Democratic primary to Martha Coakley (who went on to lose to Brown) and has said he would consider a second try (16 percent); Rep. Stephen Lynch, who drew back from the race after running afoul of his traditional labor base but is considered a moderate who could peel votes from Brown (19 percent).
The PPP survey of 500 voters from November 29 to December 1 had a 4.4-point error margin.
Among the galaxy of Bay State pols discussed among insiders as potential challengers to Brown are several whose names were not tested, including Democratic Rep. Niki Tsongas; City Year co-founder Alan Khazei; Kennedy son Ted Jr., Kennedy nephew and former Rep. Joe Kennedy, Newton Mayor Setti Warren, and University of Massachusetts-Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan.
Without a declared candidate, Democrats nonetheless went on the offense against Brown this week, after the senator lined up against a Democratic extension of unemployment benefits. Brown, in a floor speech and later in a YouTube video, said he wanted to extend the benefits, but not to authorize new spending.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee escalated criticism of Brown, saying he “just carries water for out-of-touch national Republicans,” a salient argument in Massachusetts, where the national GOP fares poorly.