In recent days, alarm bells have been ringing in Democratic circles. Ted Kennedy's Senate seat may be in jeopardy in next week's special election.
"[I]t's not the Kennedy seat, it's not the Democrats' seat, it's the people's seat."
Republican nominee Scott Brown
It has long been assumed that the Democratic nominee to complete Kennedy's unexpired term would cruise to victory. And that may be the eventual outcome. But the very idea that the seat that was held by the liberal lion for nearly half a century, representing a state that hardly ever votes for Republicans for anything, might not go to the Democratic nominee sent shock waves through the party, and the state's Democrats, as well as some national Democrats, although, notably, not Barack Obama — who, it could plausibly be argued, might not have been nominated for president without Kennedy's public endorsement — have responded.
Of course, Obama's absence from the campaign might not be a bad thing as far as Democrats are concerned. His latest approval numbers, from CBS News, show his national approval rating at 46%. At a comparable point in his presidency (less than a year before his party lost control of Congress), Bill Clinton's approval rating, as reported by CBS News, was 48%.
CNN.com reports that Obama's approval numbers are down three points since last month while his disapproval numbers are up four points.
Now, I live in an entirely different time zone. In fact, I would guess that I live about 1,500 miles from Boston. So I haven't seen the advertisements that have been running in the special election, but I have heard that the ads have taken a decidedly negative turn on both sides.
- The Boston Globe reported that the negative ads originated from Democratic nominee Martha Coakley's campaign.
- Then, the Globe reported, Brown retaliated with negative ads of his own.
It has been suggested that an upset is brewing in Massachusetts. I don't know if that is true. But a lifetime of observing political campaigns tells me that decisions are made by those who show up.
I've heard that, in 2010, the Republican base is energized and that the Democratic base is not.
Sounds a lot like 1994 to me.