Boston’s NPR radio station, WBUR, conducted a poll earlier this week that shows Scott Brown is in a “strong position” to rejoin his colleagues in the Senate, assuming John Kerry is appointed to be Secretary of State, triggering a special election.
The poll was conducted with 500 registered voters on Monday and Tuesday, and Brown’s favorables are very high, even though it is less than two months after he lost a brutal campaign battle against Elizabeth Warren.
58% of poll respondents said they viewed him favorably, only 28% viewed him unfavorably, with 12% undecided and 1% saying they had never heard of him.
Not surprisingly, Brown is the overwhelming favorite in a Republican primary: 81% would vote for Brown, 6% for former Governor Bill Weld, and 5% former gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker.
I have heard some scattered rumors of other candidates considering throwing their hats in the ring, but nothing serious or very credible. Brown’s near-universal name recognition and fundraising prowess not only make him a formidable primary opponent, but also help reassure Republican primary voters still smarting from November’s losses (the Democrats pretty much ran the table in the state, now holding both Senate seats, all Congressional seats, and a large majority in both houses of the Legislature) that he is likely the party’s most viable candidate for this seat.
The poll also tested hypothetical matchups between Brown and several current or former Massachusetts Democratic Congressional representatives (Reps. Markey, Capuano, Lynch, and former Rep. Meehan), and Brown led each of them by a whopping 17 to 19 points.
Elizabeth Warren was able to defeat Brown in November, but she had two advantages that next year’s Democrat contenders would lack. First, this was a presidential election year and the special election turnout is almost universally expected to give a Republican a much better chance than this November.
Second, Warren was able to successfully weaken Brown’s numbers with women voters, even though he is moderate on many of those issues, including being pro-choice. A male candidate – and almost all of the names being discussed as potential candidates for the Democratic nomination are men – would not be able to duplicate Warren’s attacks as easily.
UPDATE: Jim Geraghty at National Review linked my post here, and, after commenting “Dang,” on the poll numbers (heh), had this to say:
Chances are that some of that is the advantage of statewide name recognition against the name recognition limited to one congressional district, and in a hard-fought special Senate election, Brown would find it tough to match those numbers. But the four potential opponents polled, and most of the other non-Ben-Affleck names, mentioned are more or less cookie-cutter, standard-issue, middle-aged or older white career Massachusetts Democratic pols.
[Cross-posted at Sunshine State Sarah]