What's Scott Brown's Secret?
1:35 PM, Dec 2, 2010 • By JAY COST
While the Senate electoral field in 2012 is tilted heavily toward the Republicans (Democrats must defend 23 seats to the GOP's 10), there is at least one Republican who will have to mount a serious reelection campaign: Scott Brown of Massachusetts. PPP reports that he's in good shape, at least for now:
My feeling for a while has been that Republicans have ceded too much of New England almost by default in recent years. Democrats dominate there, but in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island a plurality of voters are registered as independents. That suggests an opening for Republicans that, so far, they have generally been unable to benefit from. In the 2010 midterm, for instance, just 2 Democratic-held House seats, both in New Hampshire, went Republican, while the Democrats held toss-up seats in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
Unfortunately, many conservatives often are frustrated with this region because they feel as though the choice is between a RINO and a liberal Democrat, which to them isn't much of a choice. I don't necessarily agree with this sentiment (and personally I would usually choose a RINO over a liberal Democrat -- almost all of the liberals voted for Obamacare while none of the RINOs did!), but I appreciate why conservatives feel this way.
This is why I think Scott Brown is somebody that conservatives should study carefully. Obviously, his voting record has not been overwhelmingly conservative, but by the same token I think it would be unfair to call him a RINO. And yet, if PPP is to be believed, he is in extremely good shape, with a net job approval of +24 and solid leads over his nearest competitors. Might he teach us how to square this circle?
If Brown manages to win in 2012 without going the way of the RINO, Republicans and conservatives would be well advised to ask: What's this guy's secret? How has he been able to succeed as a moderate conservative in such a deep blue region of the country? Note, in particular, his appeal with independents in Massachusetts, who tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic in Senate and presidential elections. How has Brown been able to hold them in his voting coalition without attracting charges of RINOism?
I honestly do not know the answer to these questions, but I'd really like to. New England does not nearly have the electoral power that it used to, but there is no reason for the GOP to cede it every year to the Democrats, so the latter can concentrate their resources on the Midwest.