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Q&A #5: Brown Attacks

Loving the questions --please keep 'em coming!

"Mathew Helman" (of ProgressMass) asks:

How would you rank Scott Brown's "Killer B's" in terms of how much each hurts Brown with Massachusetts voters: 1) Big Banks & Wall Street; 2) Blunt Amendment; 3) Big Oil; 4) Buffett Rule

1) Small amount

2) Slightly less small amount

3) No amount

4) Small amount

Here's how I see it: Barring a major change in the dynamic of the race, you've got a pretty small share of the electorate who will decide this race. Those folks are mostly middle-of-the-road Obama voters who are reasonably happy with the way things are going these days, because they're frankly going pretty well in Massachusetts. If these two candidates were both challenging for an open seat in this scenario, those votes would go to Warren. But since Brown is the incumbent, and people are pretty happy with the status quo, those votes are likely to go to him. Warren's ace in the hole is that those voters really, really, don't like national Republicans. So, the way to beat him is to make that slim portion of the electorate believe that Brown is one of those nasty, cold-hearted, foul-smelling national Republicans.

This is precisely why groups like ProgressMass are trying to link Brown to symbols of what Massachusetts independents loathe about national Republicans. It is also precisely why Brown is A) trying to run distractions to keep people from paying attention to anything going on in Washington; and B) running ads to reinforce the image of him as a nice, warm-hearted, woman-loving, man of the people, to inure him from the attack ads coming this fall.

Each individual piece of evil-Republican symbolism is of marginal significance, but the accumulation of it will move some portion of that middle group away from Brown. Possibly far enough to beat him, maybe not.

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