Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Game Day in Taxachusetts

It's about 4am in Massachusetts right now. The polls open at 7am and close at 8pm (unless the rules have changed since November).

Prediction #1

Photo from fOTOGLIF
Scott Brown wins the election by 4-7%. Maybe more, but I think that's a reasonable projection.

All three candidates will be working their Get Out The Vote operations to the very last minute, but Brown and Kennedy have the advantage.

It's winter weather with snow and rain in the forecast. Democratic voters are already demoralized. Maybe they'll brave the cold and wind and sludge to vote, maybe they'll stay inside where it's nice and warm.

Brown voters are energized -- not for any particularly good reason, but hey, people in India get killed in senseless religious stampedes all the time, don't they?

Most Kennedy voters are ideological voters. They never expected their candidate to win. Although they're doing their best to make that happen, they'll vote come hell or high water to have their dissenting voices heard, to send their message, to register their preference in the face of the knowledge that that preference will not be realized ... this time.

Scientific Wild Ass Guess: Brown 49%, Coakley 46%, Kennedy 5%.

But I could be very wrong.

Prediction #2

There will be controversy.

If Brown wins by a smidgen, of course, we'll have the whole "hanging chad" recount routine a la Bush v. Gore, Franken v. Coleman, etc.

If Coakley wins, the margin won't matter -- all we'll hear about for the next six months is vote fraud, whether there's any evidence for it or not.

If Brown wins, his seating will be delayed. All it takes is a few local clerks willing to stall for the full 15 days they're allowed before they have to certify their tallies to the Secretary of State. Other delaying tactics become available after that. Unless the Senate Democratic Caucus's party discipline breaks down completely -- which is possible if enough Senators start seeing pitchforks and tar in their re-election futures -- Brown will be sworn and seated when Joe Biden and/or Harry Reid damn well feel like getting around to it.

While Brown's seating is delayed, Republicans will try to keep temporary appointee Paul Kirk, whose replacement is to be chosen today, from voting in the US Senate.

Their argument is complete BS (hint: "Qualified," as used in the General Laws of Massachusetts, specifically alludes to "qualification by oath" -- an elected official becomes "qualified" when he's sworn in, which can't happen until the election is certified), but they'll make it anyway. Not because they think it's a winning argument, but because they'll be playing primarily to people who'll believe, well, pretty much anything. Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born secret Muslim! Saddam Hussein planned to attack the US with flying killer robots! And so on, and so forth.


The two best things that could happen to the Democratic Party, and the two worst things that could happen to the Republican Party right now would be:

- Scott Brown winning today's election; and

- ObamaCare going down in flames.

If Brown wins, the Democratic base gets re-energized/re-mobilized for this year's campaign. If Coakley wins ... hey, a Democrat won in Massachusetts ... yawn.

If Brown wins, we get to find out whether the Tea Party populists are the real thing or just political streetwalkers. The GOP establishment thinks it's bought the Tea Parties for a one-night stand (a threesome with Dede Scozzafava Lite) on January 19th, and it thinks it can buy them again for a Tuesday night gangbang in November.

If the GOP establishment is right, the Tea Partiers will take the money on the nightstand and start lubing up for Round Two. If the GOP establishment is wrong, the Tea Partiers will back third party candidates in November. My guess is that we'll see some of both, and that there will either be two distinct Tea Party movements or one pale shadow of a Tea Party movement by November.

If Coakley wins, the Tea Party movement may be able to forget what a bullshit whistledick hack of a candidate Brown was, tell itself that the money on the nightstand must have been accidentally dropped there, and convince itself that its gentleman admirer really does plan to leave his wife for it after the ... special party ("really, honey, the ball gag and handcuffs will be fun and my buddies will use condoms, I promise -- let's just get adventurous this once!") ... in Novemeber.

If ObamaCare fails, the Democrats get to blame them there obstructionist Republicans for the next ten months. If ObamaCare passes, the Democrats have to spend the next ten months defending it. Which explains why GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been busting his ass to make sure it passes.

I don't know if the Democrats have really thought this thing out yet. I get the feeling that they really will push ObamaCare through. Won't be the first time they've snatched defeat from the jaws of ... well, lesser defeat.

The GOP will pick up seats in both houses of Congress in November. A Brown victory probably means a minimum of two fewer pickups in each house, though, and dumping ObamaCare would cut the GOP's gains even further.

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