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Massachusetts miracle for the GOP?
A new poll shows a surprisingly close race to succeed Ted Kennedy, with the fate of health care reform hanging in the balance
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emocrats have held Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat since 1952. But with a special election to replace Kennedy scheduled for January 19, a new Rasmussen poll showing GOP candidate Scott Brown only 9 points behind Democrat Martha Coakley has some observers wondering if Republicans are poised to pull off a major upset. The stakes are even higher than usual: If Brown wins, he would kill the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, potentially derailing Obama's health reform bill. Is this just another GOP-friendly Rasmussen poll, or should Democrats be legitimately worried about losing Kennedy's seat? (Watch the Massachusetts senatorial candidates appear on a local radio program)

Brown could pull off a big upset: The race to replace Ted Kennedy is definitely a "possible shocker," says William Jacobson in Legal Insurrection. By all rights, the Democrats should have a double-digit lead, but their "tactic of acting like the election already is over may be backfiring." The enthusiasm and momentum are all on the Republicans' side, and that bodes well for them, given that special elections like this often break in favor of the party that does a better job turning out voters.
"Earthquake rumblings in MA"

This poll is good news—for Democrats: "Republicans are engaged in some epic spinning and not a little crowing about this poll," says Laura Clawson at Daily Kos. Nonetheless it's "probably bad news for them." The only way Brown can win is an "astoundingly low turnout by Democrats," and this poll should shake Democratic complacency and push the party into action.
"MA-Sen: Could Coakley Lose?"

Keep it local, GOP: "Democrats are actually worried about Scott Brown now," says Erick Erickson in RedState, and with good reason. But conservatives have to be careful not to "make a Doug Hoffman mistake" and nationalize this election. A "game changer" win by Brown would leave health care "DOA in the Senate," but this race is "going to be won or lost on Massachusetts issues," not national ones.
"Democrats are worried in Massachusetts"

Dems will win—but the margin of victory will be important: Given Coakley's name recognition and fundraising advantage, says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post, this Rasmussen poll likely just reflects a broader shift in political momentum away from Democrats. While Democrats are almost sure to win the election, national party leaders wil surely be paying close attention to the size of Coakley's win to see "just how negative to their party the mood of the country has turned."
"Is the Massachusetts Senate race getting closer?"

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