Last winter, Massachusetts voters did more than deliver a stunning rebuke to the transformative agenda obdurately pursued by President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and their minions. They also gave Democrats a potentially useful hint for this fall: tack to the center and perhaps voters can yet be mollified.
No doubt several factors were involved in Scott Brown’s January victory in which he became the first Republican in Massachusetts in almost fifty years to win election to the United States Senate. Attorney General Martha Coakley ran an atrocious campaign; Brown ran an excellent one. A persistent 10 percent unemployment rate soured voters on the party that controls the presidency and, by large margins, both houses of Congress.
But even in that unfavorable environment, Massachusetts remains a state in which Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one. A Democratic nominee for the Senate seat that Edward M. Kennedy held for forty-six years might have prevailed had it not been for Obama’s uncompromising determination, in the face of a historic economic crisis, to focus his party on passing (ultimately without a single Republican vote) comprehensive health care reform.