Yes it is time to start looking at data again, with Senator Scott Brown looking toward his 2012 re-elect bid. Despite many folks rolling their eyes (too early for polling) the data contains some interesting tidbits. Western New England College did the survey, and it showed a healthy level of support for Senator Brown. But I don’t see that support as impregnable. Lets look at the numbers.
Senator Brown has a favorable rating of over 50%, and a job approval rating of 57%, equal to that of John Kerry, with a much smaller rate of disapproval than Kerry. So he starts from a strong position. And although it certainly is way to early to gauge a Democratic nominee’s ultimate strength against Brown the head to head matchups do point to some Brown strengths. In a head to head against Mike Capuano Brown wins handily, 51% to 38%. Maybe that is not surprising. But two numbers stand out to me. The first is the Brown margin amongst independents, where he beat Capuano by 40 points. The second number of note is the Brown win amongst the female demographic. Brown won the Coakley election by drubbing her amongst independents. If the Dems cannot get that number down then they lose again. Got to close the gap amongst independents, and likely need to outrightly win the female vote. This necessity is borne out by Brown’s near unanimous support amongst Republicans, which stands at 96%. So much for the conservative wing abandoning him. Has not happened yet, and in my opinion it will not happen.
The polling shows small name recognition for most of the potential Dems, which is not surprising. Two mayors, Kim Driscoll of Salem, and Setti Warren of Newton, are shown to have not been heard of by over 65% of the population. In that respect the data shows us what we already know, that both will need to do some work to introduce themselves to a statewide audience, and build a strong base of financial support to do so. Even Capuano has some statewide name recognition issues, and he has run for this office before. Today’s Globe talks about the Democratic hope to unseat Brown by running a grass roots campaign that takes the lessons learned from Deval Patrick’s winning effort. And I believe that Scott Brown can see that danger himself. But the Governor managed, by running a top flight campaign, to blunt the Charlie Baker margin amongst independents. He also had unified Democratic support, and adequate financing. The Democrats will have a wide open primary, and will need to take steps to make sure that the eventual nominee will not, post primary, be broke and open to a media onslaught. Beating Scott Brown. Yes it is possible, but the Dems are going to have to run a great campaign and raise lots of money. Difficult yes, impossible, no. The poll results are attached below. The Western New England press release is here.