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A Little Less Blue?

Massachusetts Republicans hope Scott Brown’s victory was a leading indicator.

Oct 25, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 06 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Finally, the gerrymandered Fourth District, which includes the liberal Boston suburb Brookline and stretches south to Fall River and New Bedford, holds the top prize for Republicans: 15-term Democratic congressman Barney Frank. The Fourth voted for Obama by a 28-point margin in 2008, and it has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D +14, exceeded only by Boston’s urban districts. The scourge of conservatives, Frank has run unopposed in every midterm election since 1994, but Republican candidate Sean Bielat from Brookline has broken the pattern this year.

Brown carried the Fourth by his slimmest margin of victory, fewer than 2,000 votes. But a win is a win, and Brown’s success means Republicans here are fired up even in this unlikeliest of races. Bielat is an attractive candidate, a young Marine reservist who speaks calmly and articulately in contrast with Frank’s bluster. Even as Frank’s ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have become well known, he remains popular within the district. A Bielat victory would be the out-of-left-field upset of the year. 

The effect of Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts may be largely psychological. The perennial problem of Republicans’ unpopularity in New England seems less daunting now, which is good news for candidates and potential donors alike. More important, it has provided the state’s conservatives hope after years in the wilderness. For Massachusetts voters, there is now a choice.

Michael Warren is a Collegiate Network fellow and an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.

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