Today’s Suffolk University/7 News poll shows Scott Brown ahead of Martha Coakley for the first time -by four points, essentially a margin-of-error difference. This dramatic news is somewhat understandable when you look at how the people of Massachusetts have shifted on the state’s 3-year-old health care law (making this race more than ever a proxy on health reform legislation). Given the relative success so far of the Mass. health reform law, this was a real shocker.
According to Jessica Van Sack’s article in today’s Boston Herald, a slight majority of voters are opposed to national health reform legislation, and nearly two thirds say it’s unaffordable. Asked about support for the Mass. law, just 54 percent were supportive. This is stunning since a Blue Cross Blue Shield report last spring, three years into the law,put public support for it at 71 percent.
It could be that Scott Brown’s claim that a national health law would hurt Massachusetts has frightened voters. Or it may be that public support in Massachusetts has gone south on its own. If this attitudinal change is real and figures significantly in the outcome of the Senate race, it would end the fillibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate for health reform and will dramatically undercut the Obama Presidency. For both Democrats and Republicans, the stakes here are very very high.
Coakley’s comment in the final debate that Al Qaeda is gone from Afghanistan is reminiscent of President Gerald Ford’s denial in a 1976 debate that Poland was behind the Iron Curtain. Coakley’s assertion may have been a misspeak, but it certainly didn’t play well on a day when three Americans were killed there.
Late fall of 1994, Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney were running even. On election day, Kennedy won 58 percent to 41 percent. The next 100 hours in Massachusetts will make all the difference.