Losing Crossover Appeal Could Cost GOP the Senate

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Charles Krupa / AP

Republican Sen. Scott Brown of shakes hands with supporters during his re-election campaign kick-off event in Worcester, Massachusetts, Jan. 19, 2012.

For much of the past six months, if you asked a Democrat about Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, you’d hear some mix of exasperation and amazement. In a state that went for Barack Obama by 26 points in 2008, Brown, who won the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in a 2010 special election, has been more than holding his own against liberal icon Elizabeth Warren. Brown’s combination of homespun appeal and a knack for playing the middle on the issues is “sadly masterful,” one Democrat told me at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. And it has more than a few Massachusetts Dems, who outnumber registered Republicans in the state by a 3 to 1 margin, carefully weighing their options.

Until this week, in fact, the most important uncommitted Democrat in the country was probably Boston Mayor Tom Menino, the kind of big-city, big-personality, machine politician who seems to have stepped out of another age; a majority of the residents of Boston say they’ve personally met Menino and an even high number say they like him. For months, he praised both Brown and Warren — once even declaring the Republican Senator unbeatable — but declined to endorse either of them. Warren’s campaign, anxious about getting conservative urban Democrats to vote for a Harvard professor over a truck-driving National Guardsman from Wrentham, didn’t relish facing Election Day without Menino’s turnout machine on its side.

Now, as it turns out, it probably won’t have to. Menino’s endorsement is expected to come Friday, according to the Dorchester Reporter, and it’s just the latest in a series of auspicious signs for Warren and Democratic Senate candidates like her. As volatile polling clouds the presidential race and pundits diagnose the Romney campaign’s alleged ills, it’s actually the GOP’s effort to take the Senate, not the White House, that’s in grave condition.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way; 2012 was widely viewed as a very favorable year for the GOP: Democrats are defending 23 of the 33 contested seats and will lose their majority if they lose a net four of them. But over the past month, something has gone seriously wrong. Nate Silver’s forecasting model lurched from giving Democrats just a 39% chance of holding the Senate in mid-August to a 79% chance this week.

The shift is evident across the country. In Florida, incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson has opened up a considerable lead on Republican challenger Connie Mack, with four recent major polls in the state finding Nelson 7 to 14 points ahead. The race had been a tie in July. Former Virginia governor and DNC chair Tim Kaine is leading George Allen by about 4 points, with recent polling showing him ahead by as much as 8. This, after months of deadlock. In Ohio, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown’s once narrow lead has widened to about 7 points, and in Wisconsin, Representative Tammy Baldwin has just taken a thin lead in the polls after months of trailing Republican former governor Tommy Thompson.

Each race is different, and these close contests are far from over. But Brown’s case in Massachusetts is instructive.

Throughout the spring and summer, Massachusetts played host to one of the most closely watched Senate races in history. Outside spending groups showed up in force before the candidates signed a cease-fire agreement. When Obama borrowed and botched Warren’s words by saying “You didn’t build that,” her line about businesses owing the government some credit for their success became a national flashpoint. Controversy erupted over Warren’s claim of Native American heritage during her teaching days. Through it all, the the polls barely budged. Brown and Warren were tied, and nothing seemed to change that. Until early September.

Four recent polls suddenly showed Warren grinding out a small lead. Part of that change may have to do with Warren herself; voters are getting to know the political novice as advertising picks up and she comes off a plum speaking slot at the DNC. A Suffolk University survey found her net approval rating increasing nine points, to +19, from May to September.

But more important, Brown is losing crossover appeal. The number of Democrats who said they were backing the Senator decreased by more than a fifth since May, even as Brown’s robust +31 popularity in the state hardly moved. And if you listen to the candidate himself, he seems worried that his interparty appeal is being compromised by the national Republican Party.

Brown was quick to disavow Todd Akin’s comments on rape and even quicker to distance himself from Mitt Romney’s videotaped remarks disparaging the 47% of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes. “I’m Scott Brown, he’s Mitt Romney. We disagree on a whole host of things,” Brown told TIME on Wednesday. “I lived in 17 houses by the time I was 18. My mom got public assistance for a short period of time. I don’t think anybody is on public assistance because they want to be.”

But it isn’t just the case of one moderate Senator in a liberally inclined state. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, locked in a tight race with Representative Shelley Berkley, similarly disavowed Romney’s worldview espoused in the video posted by Mother Jones. “I have a very different view of the world, having grown up, as I said, with a father who was an auto mechanic and a mother who was a school cook and five brothers and sisters,” Heller said. “I believe in a safety net. I believe that’s one of the responsibilities of the federal government.”

Wisconsin’s Thompson was more blunt in a local TV interview. “You know, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, if your standard bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it’s going to reflect on the down ballot,” he said.

I have no idea what pushed Menino over the edge for Warren. Maybe it was always in the cards. But Republicans like Scott Brown need Democratic supporters to win. A juiced conservative base may (or may not) help Romney nationally, but ideological warfare appears to be damaging Republican prospects down ballot. And regardless of who wins the White House, control of the Senate will help determine what the next President is able to accomplish with his term.

— With reporting by Alex Rogers / Washington

133 comments
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JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Romney's Poor Judgment = Economic Collapse + World War III = NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON 

Only President Obama PROTECTS the MIDDLE CLASS + 47% of Americans

STOP GRIDLOCK.  SAVE AMERICA.  VOTE the DEMOCRATIC TICKET.

JohnParish
JohnParish

Help support the change in the way election campaign funds

are raised.  Stop the Super Pacs from

steering the candidates and ruling the government. 

Come march on Congress and show them that the American

Population do not want candidates to be persuaded by these Super Pacs any more.

Visit www.indiegogo.com/SuperPac

and help raise the awareness of this problem.

W L Simpson
W L Simpson

Congress ,  like what was once said about the VP's job----"not worth a warm bucket of spit"

radsenior
radsenior

Crossover voting may well be in jeopardy with the advent of Todd Akins and his close association with Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and company. Of course, the TEA-Republican primary afforded multiple issues and gaffs to fill Carnegie Hall for decades. Straight ticket voting is in vogue this November as one never knows who is (R) and who is scarlet(R) or really a (T)! Where did Romney ever get the idea that Social Security was a handout from the government? It was bought and paid for by taxpayers! As a recipient of SS and Medicare, I am fed up with the phrase "entitlements", spoken with the disdain as an acceptance or handout! What galls me personally was the in-actions of the eight on stage in Florida who did not step in or shut down the audience when a soldier, in uniform, in theater merely asked about DADT and booed. That soldier's blood is just as red as you or me, and he did not question but volunteered to join! This party does not represent all the people. They are the resurgence of bigotry and prejudice in America. 

forwardthinker1
forwardthinker1

Scott Brown is the kind of Republican a Democrat could possibly consider voting for.  I believe he is correct when he says that the national GOP is hurting his crossover appeal.   The national Republican Party is pushing farther and farther right, while those like Brown are quickly dismissed as RINOs or even closet leftists.   Look back and see what the right was saying about him when he supported Obama's jobs bill.  He rode in on the wave of the lunatic Tea Party (mostly because he was the Republican up for Ted Kennedy's seat; they didn't really do their homework to find out what Brown's positions actually are), and when he came out in support of the bill, they demolished him.

The Republican Party is hurting this country badly.  They either need to come to their senses or just go away.

Richard Giles
Richard Giles

Romney and Ryan aren't the only "puppets" trying to control our government for "the money's" interests.  The last four years have clearly shown the Republican / Tea Party is owned and controlled by "the money" as they stubbornly blocked and arrogantly faulted all efforts, always putting their political ambitions above all else, without concern or conscience for the people.  Their constantly withholding bipartisanship and cooperation, always neglecting their obligation to the people, and instead concentrating on their political ambitions and just on the interests of "the money", their strong supporters, clearly showed their "puppet" status.  Boehner, Cantor, Bachmann and Ryan, plus all of those controlled by Norquist, Cheney, Rove, the Koch brothers and Adelson, totally demonstrate their belligerent and arrogant attitude in their complete focus on serving only "the money", while being cocky confident in the power, influence and mega-millions provided to dupe and control people as "pawns".  Their only real goal is to keep pushing this country further into being a two-class society with the 1% continually feeding their insatiable "more" (never enough) appetite while the 99% keep loosing more.  "Liberalism" is not the problem nor the scare, rather a permissive government allowing exploitation by the few, rationalized as "conservatism", is the current costly cancer.

Their conduct with health care reform is just one obvious example as they neglected to ever participate, fought to block, constantly criticized and now seek to just repeal Obamacare, serving only Special Interests and leaving the people with no reform and totally dependent on those who fought it and don't want it, to come back with something worthwhile, instead of ever working responsibly in the people's interests to fine tune it.  Not only is that ridiculous, it is totally self-servingly irresponsible and totally fails for the people ... but it does clearly identify their priorities and their loyalty.  No politician who advocates the repeal of Obamacare should go unquestioned for their loyalty, honesty and priorities.

When Obama was elected they arrogantly declared they would not work with him, that they would not responsibly do their jobs, and now it is the people's turn to tell them that their self-serving irresponsibility has just cost them their jobs.  If this amounts to "Class Warfare", it is such as a logical response to "Class Neglect" (the 99%) and "Class Favoritism" (the 1%); contrary to their actions, the middle-class is not trying to do away with the very wealthy, the middle-class is always just trying to survive.

superlogi
superlogi

Well, it really doesn't matter whether a progressive conservative or a progressive aboriginal Marxist get's elected.  They'll end up voting the same way in any case.

sacredh
sacredh

They will make different choices for the Supreme Court though. That's the Grand Prize.

sacredh
sacredh

I...

Pnnto
Pnnto

Well put.

sacredh
sacredh

Another errant post that I just gave up on. Time for a movie. We're going to watch Prometheus.

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

I am as liberal as they come (I voted for Jesse Jackson in '84 and '88), but I think the implosion of the Republican Party is bad for America.

While I wish the U.S. were more like Europe, with a parliamentary system where we could vote for political parties that were closely aligned with our own political philosophies, the reality is that the U.S. is profoundly moderate.  

We need two moderate, pragmatic parties - one slightly left of center and one slightly right of center - and both willing to compromise with the other when they find themselves in the position of the "loyal" opposition.

These parties and political philosophies are not opposites in competition with each other, but rather the yin and yang of American politics. Each needs the other.

Americans are not, by nature, ideologues.  We are fundamentally pragmatists who expect government to solve problems, not implement doctrines.  The modern GOP has been captured by a small, fanatical group of "true believers," who think the very idea of compromise is somehow un-American.

The fact is, our great strength has been our ability to compromise.  When that ability has broken down, so has our nation (as during the Civil War).  

The moderate wing of the Republican Party has to stand up to the crazies and take their party back, for the good of the GOP and for the good of the nation.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

 You ARE NOT "as liberal as they come".

The GOP has been a cancer on America for 50 years!

(The Southern Strategy:  Can you get that though your head!?!?)

And the Democratic party has turned into "GOP Lite" under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

B.S. Centrism and gooper extremism will be the death of us all.

~

superlogi
superlogi

You want to emulate and obviously failing system.  Why?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

 superlogi voted for G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney twice.

The only useful thing you could learn from this bitter moron is, "what not to do".

~

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

The political system in most western European systems works great.

Unlike the U.S. their representatives are not all lawyers, but rather a true cross section of the population.

When our country was founded each representative in Congress represented about 60,000 people. Today each congress person represents about 700,000 people.

In Germany it is about one representative per 110,000 people; in France 1:70,000 and Britain 1:50,000.

Our representatives no longer represent us. The represent two huge political parties that can't possibly reflect the diversity of our nation.

superlogi
superlogi

You want to grow the government even larger than it is?  That's what got both Europe and ourselves into the economic messes we're in and you want to hasten the collapse of the system by making it even larger?  Personally, I think the Constitution's the second best political document ever produced behind the Declaration.  But, if you don't, I suggest you join a society with a parliamentary system.  After all, they've done so well for themselves.

konservative1
konservative1

The state of the republican  party is so sad.  Stuck in a bubble of delusional self justification.

Lets observe a few simple facts:

Bush released the terrorist that lead the attack.

Our president got osama.

The extreme right wing has pulled the republican party so close to the edge that they can not win.

Sad but true.

ajmiell
ajmiell

Of course I read it here in 'Time'  (which we all know is slanted way to the left, like all the MSM :-/), but if Mitch McConnell really got the republicans together after Obama was elected and said the sole purpose of the minority party in politics is to become the majority then the GOP is due for an attitude adjustment in November. Their job is to play an active role in governing this country, not play defense for four years and grind this country to a halt. Romney is going to lose because average Americans are smart enough to know better when the GOP claims that the woes of the last four years are all Obama's fault.

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

Time is only "slanted to the left" if you have  strayed so far to the right that you have left the page.

The fact is that Time Magazine is a fundamentally centrist magazine.

Take it from someone who is on the left.  When I want liberal opinions I go to the Progressive, the Nation, the Village Voice, or Mother Jones.  

Time, Newsweek, U.S. News amp; World Report, and the Economist are moderate, mainstream publications.  They only seem liberal if you think FOX News, the Washington Times, the New York Post, and the National Review are moderate.

superlogi
superlogi

You need to change that brand of glue you're sniffing.

ajmiell
ajmiell

I hope you understood that I was being facetious there. I agree with you completely and find the Fox News followers' claims that all the mainstream media is biased toward the left to be ridiculous.

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

I wasn't reading carefully.  I see that now.

ahandout
ahandout

 You are far left, so far you don't even know it.

sacredh
sacredh

Is it possible that you're so far right that you don't realize it?

.

To save you a post. I am far left. I know it. I'm not mainstream in the least. I admit it. You'll never hear me claiming to be a moderate or an independent.

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

I know exactly how far left I am.  Do you really know where you stand in relation to the majority of the country?

Palladia
Palladia

And you, ahandout, have perfectly illustrated the problem you're having.

JohnOBX
JohnOBX

I get why Elizabeth Warren didn't make it past the Senate's parade of d*uchebags to become head of the Consumer Protection Agency.  A few old, angry, scared men can hold everything up by barely lifting a finger, and she scared the crap out of them.

What I don't get is why the residents in Mass. don't vote her in in a landslide.  

Palladia
Palladia

It looks fairly likely that Elizabeth Warren will win her election.  There are a lot more regular people than "old, angry, scared men."  That seems to be the Republican problem in general. 

ChowT
ChowT

Mitt Romney has multiple personalities.

1) In the mormon church he is a Bishop. I assume a Bishop tell the truth and dont lie and is a compassionate person.

2) As a family man Lady Ann says Mitt Romney is a good husband and good father. Ok. It also helps to be a rich father too.

3) As a businessman at Bain I see the darker side of Mitt Romney with his predatory practices which I am not comfortable with. Everything is all done in the name of money with no concern for had working workers and families.

4) As a politician, I seethe worst of Mitt Romney.

a) Liar

2) repeat Liar

3) compulsive liar.

5) Flip Flop. You never what does Mitt Romney stands for. What is the real philosophy of Mitt Romney? Right, left, center or whatever as Mitt Romney always say.

6) Mitt Romney is not a responsible citizen of the country. He made millions which no body is jealous of. But it is so hard to get Mitt Romney to pay his taxes. why?

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

We all have multiple personalities.

Palladia
Palladia

We may all have "multuple personalities," but usually we can trot out one which resonates with people when we need to make common cause.

Mitt's problem is that none of his various efforts hit the right note.  It seems to be the tin ear effect: If someone has a lot of money, nobody tells him when he's flat, or, if he is told, he doesn't listen.  I suspect that Mr. Romney is not very familiar with being told when he's wrong, and, in fact, he has no "common cause" with the vast majority of Americans.

To the Romneys, we are "you people," never "we." Separate. He may want our votes, but he doesn't really want us.

ChowT
ChowT

Mitt Romney should not be getting secret  srvice protection since he doesnt want to pay his taxes. A security guard will do or his adoring mormon followers can protect him.

Geonew
Geonew

 Sadly, today's Republican party is a dead end.  Their extremism and divisive ideology cannot last.  They hardly hide their agenda: make the rich richer, create a plutocracy, eliminate the Middle Class (even the phrase from the language), regulate individual lives while deregulating banks, create the Bad Other whether it is an Hispanic or independent woman or gay person or someone else, engage in endless military adventurism, attack scientific theory with dubious crackpot theories, and spew out endless sarcastic sneering hatred.   The sooner they crash and burn the better for our future.  The problems of society are endlessly challenging but America can and will solve them and will in the end side with the winner, not the whiners.  Our infrastructure needs rebuilding, our health care system is floundering, the increasing poverty is debilitating our social order and future well being, etc. and etc.  The Party of No, the People of the No, have nothing to offer, are nothing.

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

HEAR THIS MESSAGE, DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS:

You are far more partisan and divisive than the American public.  

We want you to find a way to work together, compromise, and do the people's business.  We don't want two extremist parties, fighting for ideological purity.  

We want practical solutions to the nation's problems.  That means putting aside your party doctrines and sitting down together to find a way to come up with solutions to some very serious problems.

STOP listening to the most extreme partisans in your parties and listen to the American people, who are far less partisan than the political wackos who just happen to make the most noise.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

You kind of blew it with the here this...hear, hear, let alone the bit about some world beyond where the American public is.  Really.  I get the divisive part.  You are not?  OK, take your meds and a nap.

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

Thanks for the spelling correction.  I'm  on it.

(Note to self: Don't type when drinking Friday night Mudslides)

sacredh
sacredh

ahandout, I have a permanent prescription because of muscle spasms. I only take them just before I go to bed. I also use a TENS unit. I do a great deal of physical labor both at work and at home. I also do muscle stretching exercises every other day.

ahandout
ahandout

 Apparently drinking an muscle relaxers are a big hit with the hive.  Explains a lot.  You know what that is doing to you, right?

sacredh
sacredh

MUDSLIDES! My Man! It's the only thing I drink. I mix it with milk and take muscle relaxers. I sleep like a baby. A big ol' drugged baby, but I still sleep like a log.