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Scott Brown MIA But Still Polling Strong For Senate

Monday, January 28, 2013

 

Former Senator Scott Brown may be lying low on the political scene since his loss to Elizabeth Warren last November, but he still enjoys a strong positive image among voters according to recent polling.

In a hypothetical matchup, the Republican lead Democratic U.S. Representative Edward Markey, the only candidate from either party to formally declare his candidacy for John Kerry's Senate seat in a special election, by a 22-point margin, 53 percent to 31 percent, in a survey of 435 registered voters conducted by the MassINC Polling Group.

Against a generic Democratic candidate, Brown commanded a smaller lead, just 8 points, 44 percent to 36 percent.

A December MassINC poll found similar results when matching Brown up against likely Democrats and a generic candidate.

Of the likely candidates presented to respondents in the the most recent poll, Brown enjoyed the highest favorable rating at 55 percent to 32 percent unfavorable. Markey scored 24 percent favorable and 17 percent unfavorable.

U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch received a 19-percent favorable rating, to 14 percent unfavorable. Lynch is also considering a run for Kerry's seat but has yet to make up his mind, despite reports late last week that an announcement would be forthcoming following Kerry's anticipated confirmation this week.

The MassINC poll also included U.S. Representative Michael Capuano, scoring 18 percent favorable and 15 percent unfavorable, but the Congressman has already announced that he will not be running in the special election. He joined Democratic state Senator Benjamin Downing, of Pittsfield, who also ultimately decided against a run after several weeks of consideration.

While talk of candidates and special election campaigns has been abundant on the Democratic side, there has been little information emerging from the Bay State's Republican camp.

Brown is viewed as the most likely GOP candidate, however, the former senator has remained all but silent regarding his intentions. Messages about food, fitness, sports and household chores have dominated Brown's social media accounts in recent weeks, with nary a mention of a bid to return to the Senate--or a play for the governor's office in 2014.

Clark University Political Science professor Srinivasan Sitaraman has said that Brown may be the key to both the Senate and Governor's races.

"One of the most interesting bits of information reported a few days back is that the Brown Office has renewed the lease on their campaign office in Boston, which would suggest that there is some political future for Mr. Brown," Sitaraman said.

The Senate seems the likely venue for that political future, but this year's special election will be followed by a regular election for a 6-year term in 2014, meaning back-to-back campaigns for any winner this summer. Brown has already mounted two Senate campaigns in the past several years, and the prospect of two more in the near future may be enough to turn his attentions elsewhere.

One possible alternative is the 2014 Governor's race. Despite the MassINC poll numbers, the road back to the Senate is likely to be a difficult one for Brown, and the road to Beacon Hill may prove easier to navigate. With Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray taking himself out of the running for the top office and the subsequent news that Attorney General Martha Coakley's office is investigating campaign finance issues stemming from fundraising conducted by ex-Chelsea housing chief Michael McLaughlin, Brown may be able to capitalize on the events and distinguish himself in the evolving field of candidates.

"If Scott Brown jumps into the race, he could easily position himself as someone who would come, in clean-up the act, and bring a fresh perspective to government and governance in Massachusetts," Sitaraman said.

 

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