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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Did Democrats Get The Message Massachusetts' Voters Sent?

While the blame game and finger pointing is making it's show today over the defeat of Democrat Martha Coakley to Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts for the seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy, some Democratic politicians seem to understand what the voters of Massachusetts told them with their vote.

Many will deny there was a message at all, but exit polling data, via The Politico, tells a different story.

Scott Brown's opposition to congressional health care legislation was the most important issue that fueled his U.S. Senate victory in Massachusetts, according to exit poll data collected following the Tuesday special election.

Fifty-two percent of Bay State voters who were surveyed as the polls closed said they opposed the federal health care reform measure and 42 percent said they cast their ballot to help stop President Obama from passing his chief domestic initiative.

Some Democratic politicians sat up and took notice of the campaign and watched the vote carefully and walked away with the certain knowledge that if the Democratic party political leaders continued along the same path, the November elections would be a slaughter to Democrats trying to hold their seats.

Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, via The American Spectator:

"I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in Congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results. If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, that approach is no longer appropriate. I am hopeful that some Republican Senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform because I do not think that the country would be well-served by the health care status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened. Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the Senate rule which means that 59 votes are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the health care bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of the process."

Democratic Senator Jim Webb, via TPM:

"In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated."

Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, via ABC News:

"There’s going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this,” Bayh told ABC News, but “if you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up."

He concludes:

"The only we are able to govern successfully in this country is by liberals and progressives making common cause with independents and moderates,” Bayh said. “Whenever you have just the furthest left elements of the Dem party attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country -- that’s not going to work too well."

So, while many Democratic politicians seem to be getting a clue about the message the people of Massachusetts sent, others remain delusional and continue to live in denial.

That puts them at great odds with Democratic leadership who say they will still enact reform.

"I don't think you can find a member in here, prior to or after, who supports the Senate bill," said Rep. John Larson, the fourth ranking Democrat in the House, after a meeting of the caucus tonight. But, he asked rhetorically, "did any of them tell you that they were opposed to health care and health care reform?"

"The reports of its death, as Mark Twain would say, have been exaggerated," Larson added. "We're going to move forward, and we're going to pass health care reform."

This afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said much the same. "Whatever happens in Massachusetts, we have to do that," she said. "And whatever happens in Massachusetts we will have quality affordable health care for all Americans, and it will be soon."

Emphasis mine and I refer to you to the above linked exit polls... yes, they did.

While top leadership in the Democratic party might still be in denial, rank and file members, especially those up for reelection in 2010 are concerned and understand the backroom deals, the behind closed doors push and the far push to the left, might be their death knell in November.

Republican Scott Brown’s upset win in Massachusetts Tuesday threatened to derail any hopes of passing a health reform bill this year, as the White House and Democratic leaders faced growing resistance from rank-and-file members to pressing ahead with a bill following the Bay State backlash.

Massachusetts' voters own words might give a hint to the problems Democrats face now, if they listen and learn.

A few of them, via Public Opinion Strategies:

“My feeling is the Democrats have really screwed up since Barack Obama has been in office, and the sooner they lose their majority the better for our country. I think I’m just very disappointed in the direction this country is taking.” (Independent Man, Middlesex)

“To tell you the truth, I started out mainly for Coakley, but I’m fed up with the Democrats, I’m worried about this health bill they’re trying to get through, I’m just worried what it’s going to do to me.” (Independent Woman, Worcester)

Democrats’ liberal agenda is killing this country’s core beliefs and values and all the issues that our forefathers fought for. We don’t need to be baby sat. Despite what Washington’s opinion of the common person, we are completely capable of making own decisions.” (Independent Woman, Essex)

“Brown would be the forty-first elected Republican, breaking the monopoly the Democrats have in Congress. I think they’re running away with their agenda and not listening to the American people. Just that there are so many cases where, for example the tea party, people are out there expressing their opinions. I see interviews with Harry Reid, not hearing the majority.” (Independent Man, Bristol)

Going into November election mode.

Heading into 2010, with the November elections just months away and pollsters and handicappers already projecting massive GOP gains, enthusiasm will factor in to who shows up at the polls and how they vote.

The enthusiasm gap from last night's election was written about extensively prior to the voting polls opening, showing the Brown supporters being highly enthusiastic while the Coakley supporters, not so much.

Via Huffington Post, we see a recent poll from Democratic consultants Stan Greenberg and James Carville, which shows that 46 percent of the GOP is intensely excited about the elections of 2010, just 33 percent of Democrats are enthused.

The next few weeks will set the tone and how the Democrats choose to move forward with their agenda will determine just how many seats they lose in November.