Democrats Fear Trends In MA-Sen Race Spell Trouble For Fall Elections

January 13, 2010 4:57 a.m.

Progressives frustrated with a lack of action in Washington despite a strong majority are pointing at the close race for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts with a stern “I told you so” sentiment.

Polls showing Attorney General Martha Coakley closely matched with state Sen. Scott Brown have shocked national Democrats, who are deploying their full muscle north and spending money in a state that hasn’t seen a competitive race for Senate in more than 13 years.

Most campaign-type Democrats think Coakley will pull out a victory Tuesday despite a lackluster campaign and independents and undecideds rapidly slipping from their column, but some openly warn that a close race in the Bay State is a real warning sign for November’s mid-term elections.“The fact that we’re even discussing the possibility of a relatively unknown state senator filling Ted Kennedy’s seat shows me they are underestimating the problems they are facing in 2010,” said James Boyce, a Boston-based Democratic consultant who worked on the John Kerry presidential campaign in 2004.

Boyce is a frequent critic of his Democratic party, especially on health care and climate change, and has been saying for months that if Obama and Congressional leaders don’t embrace more progressive policies the liberal base of the party won’t show up this fall.

But his message that Democrats in Washington have “catastrophically screwed up” a big opportunity to affect real change is being repeated in political circles here as some in the party fear the landscape could be worse than they initially feared.

Democrats have told TPMDC privately that Coakley is suffering in this race because of growing anger over spending and frustration with the party in power. Internal polls also show the race is close and that independent voters are flocking to Brown.

Democrats sent to Boston to help with the campaign say they are just seeing the race through to the finish line. One top staffer familiar with Massachusetts is heading to Boston today and said there is not a real threat of the state sending a Republican to D.C.

The Organizing for America spinoff of the Obama campaign has been running volunteer phone banks to get out the vote in Massachusetts. OFA put together a similar (but ultimately unsuccessful) effort before the elections in Virginia and New Jersey last fall.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested today the Senate race spells troubled for Democrats.

“There are some things we do know about what’s going on in Massachusetts – and they are all bad signs for President Obama and his party,” he wrote in a newsletter to supporters today. “Even if Brown doesn’t win, the election is a negative referendum on Democratic rule in Washington.”

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