With Scott Brown having won, Democrats will have the same Senate margin they had this time last year, 59 votes. We all now know that the Senate has chosen to adopt procedures that hamstring it. So Democrats will have to get tougher and smarter if they want to get anything done. I don't believe even the Senate can be tied up forever by a minority IF the majority actually wants to do anything. The Dems problem is that it is not clear they'd rather do anything more than posturing in divergent directions. No wonder there is an enthusiasm gap.
Losing a Massachusetts statewide election to a Republican wouldn't be quite such a shock if folks remembered more of the state's political history. Though Kennedys owned the turf, the state elected Republican governors from 1991 through 2007. Obviously there is a Republican base there.
I haven't worked politically in Massachusetts since walking precincts for Fr. Robert Drinan in 1970, but a contentious post from Al Giordano today rings true for me as a political junkie who observes the Commonwealth frequently.
I might put that a little more generously: Massachusetts often feels as if it had two Democratic parties. One is traditional, white, Catholic, and working class, at least culturally. These folks gave Hilary Clinton her huge victory in the 2008 primary in the state. The other Democratic party is more urban, black and brown, gay and also catches up the mostly white "cultural creatives" who tend cluster in educational centers and technology hubs. Neither set much likes "dumb wars," the former because their kids get killed in them, the latter because they reject U.S. imperial over-reach. Sometimes these folks get going in the same direction; then they overwhelm the exurban, mostly white, mostly libertarian-oriented Republicans.
Though Barack Obama had no trouble blasting to victory in Massachusetts in November 2008, the state's configuration of Democratic factions is not his essential coalition. Bush's dismal record of failure, the economic implosion, and a national yearning for change made his big win possible for Obama -- as I wrote two years ago --
Today in Massachusetts the stress points in that coalition showed themselves again. Coakley won in Boston and the parts of Western Mass where she should have won, but not by as much as she needed. Very likely the fissures in the Democratic coalition will show up again nationally next November unless the White House political operation can figure out how to put Humpty Dumpy together again. It's a tough job, since Humpty Dumpty is only barely out of the fetal stage.
If the White House decides to understand its weakness as pushing too hard too fast (as mainstream media and the Republicans will push them to) expect a blood bath for Democrats in November. Obama got to office by selling a vision of dynamic movement forward; his coalition is fragile when mired in inactivity. It just barely exists on its best days. It's still trying to be born, to come into its own. It withers when left to lie around, waiting for politicians and political fights formed in a different U.S. era to get themselves moving.