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June 11, 2013 5:11 PM Lightning Unlikely To Strike Twice in Massachusetts

By Ed Kilgore

We’re actually going to have a major election in 18 days: the special election to fill the remainder of Secretary of State John Kerry’s seat in the U.S. Senate. And given the results of the last Senate special election in that state, Democrats are nervous while Republicans are hopeful. TNR’s Nate Cohn looks closely at the race today, compares it to the 2010 contest, and suggests lightning probably won’t strike twice:

If a perfect storm only yielded a narrow Brown victory, then anything less might be expected to yield a Markey win. And since I don’t see very many analysts arguing that Gomez has Brown’s pickup truck, that Markey is as indolent as Coakley, or that the political climate is as hostile to Democrats as it was during the heart of the health-care debate, I’m surprised to see Democrats worrying so much about Massachusetts. After all, Brown’s victory doesn’t loom large because it presaged a new era of Republican competitiveness in the Bay State, but instead because it was completely surprising. A mere two years later, of course, he coughed up the seat to Elizabeth Warren.
The fear of another surprise—some big, final lurch in Gomez’ direction—is what keeps Democrats nervous, but Massachusetts voters probably didn’t just flip a switch and move 20 points in Brown’s direction overnight. Instead, Brown probably made steady, accelerating gains while Coakley twiddled her thumbs. That’s hard to prove, since the polls didn’t show Brown making steady gains—but that’s because there just weren’t any polls.

There have been more polls this time around, and Markey is maintaining a steady if unspectacular lead. Unless Markey and his staff have decided to conduct a political science experiment by following the Coakley playbook down the stretch, it’s hard to see the Democrat losing.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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