I’ve been fascinated by the on-going struggle to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis, both because the failure to resolve it will be economically calamitous and also because the outcome will in many ways shape next year’s federal election. Four years ago the voters threw out the Republicans; two years ago they threw out the Democrats. Prevailing wisdom says that if the economy is doing well next fall, President Obama will be re-elected; if it’s doing poorly, he won’t. I’m not sure I agree with that. Next time, I think voters will go for whichever party they dislike the least, and how the parties handle things during the next seven days will carry much weight when voters go to the polls next November.
That election will not only decide whether President Obama continues in office, it will also decide whether Scott Brown stays in the United States Senate. With $10 million already on-hand and high marks in statewide popularity polls, he would appear to be in pretty good shape. But Brown has only run statewide once, and that was in the January 2010 special election in which he received 1,168,107 votes to Martha Coakley’s 1,058,682. While the 2,149,026 votes cast i that race where extraordinarily high for a special election in the dead of winter, the statewide turnout in a presidential election is substantially higher. For example, in 2008 in Massachusetts, Barrack Obama received 1,904,097 votes to John McCain’s 1,108,854. The statewide turnout in that 2008 race (3,102,995) was 44% higher than the vote total in the 2010 special.
While the turnout in the 2012 statewide election might not reach the level seen in 2008, it will undoubtedly exceed the vote totals from January 2010 by a substantial margin. It will be those additional voters who will decide whether Scott Brown continues in office. That’s why I find the possible senate candidacy of Elizabeth Warren so intriguing. True, she’s not a Massachusetts native and she’s never ran for public office before, but neither of those is electorally terminal – just ask Deval Patrick. As for the money, Warren could become the beneficiary of a national groundswell of support from all the under-siege elements of the Democratic coalition, much like Brown did in the closing weeks of his race with Coakley. In fact, every negative you could apply to a Warren candidacy finds a Brown-echo from just 18 months ago.
Warren hasn’t ruled anything out and is supposedly mulling a Senate candidacy right now. If she jumps in Massachusetts could immediately become ground zero in the battle for control of the US Senate. In the meantime, check out the following video of Warren’s 2010 appearance on the Charlie Rose program and draw your own conclusions about what kind of a candidate she might make at this point in our history: