As political junkies grope about for their next fix, their eyes settle upon Massachusetts and the upcoming special election for a recently-available senate slot. On Tuesday, the voters will go forth towards the polls to vote in a primary election that serves as prelude to a special election to replace former Senator John Kerry.
With Kerry becoming secretary of state after Hillary Clinton stepped down, the attention of the political world focuses upon Massachusetts and a special election set for June 25. Despite all of the media scrutiny that will be focused on this race in hopes that it will be a repeat of the upset victory in 2010 that saw former Senator Scott Brown win, it is unlikely that history will repeat itself in this case.
The Democratic side of the race has turned into a two-horse race between Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.). However the actual reality of the race is that it is tilting toward a blowout for Markey. Markey has leads in nearly every poll from January onwards to the present day. The one poll that he is not in the lead by a huge stretch is an internal poll released by the Lynch campaign that has Lynch down by 6 points that was released last week. However, his longtime pollsters, Bannon Communication Research, did not conduct that poll. The Lynch campaign did not respond to any question about the poll or its methodology.
Releasing an internal poll with less then a week to go when you're down by six points is not a sign of a confident campaign. If they are up while the rest of the polls show you down, you may release them in a Hail-Mary move such as the internal poll release by the 2012 Romney campaign which proved to be a fiasco that turned into a laughingstock after the election. But if internals are down and external polls are down, there is only sign. You are going to lose.
Meanwhile the Republican candidacies look like a visit at the discount store after the decision of former Senator Scott Brown to not run for the Republican nomination. It has turned into a two-candidate race between Michael J. Sullivan, a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, and Gabriel Gomez, a former Navy SEAL. Gomez has no political or legislative experience but that did not stop him from writing to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D-Mass.) asking to be appointed to the seat.
The last two polls of the Republican side of the race have it as a tossup, with one poll saying Sullivan and the next claiming Gomez. But no matter who wins the primary, the general election looks to be solid lock for Markey.
Some have hoped that a second 2010 Scott Brown upset could sweep this election. However, 2010's Senate race in Massachusetts was the equivalent of capturing lighting in a bottle. The previous special election had incredible significance for Republicans, as the election of Brown was heralded as the breaking of the Democratic supermajority in the Senate. The election also occurred during the contentious debate over Obamacare, which became a rallying cry for voters and outside groups frustrated at the process that was taking place in Washington. It reached such a fevered pitch that Brown raised over $1 million per day in the final stages of the campaign. None of these factors will apply for the 2013 special election.
The Democratic opponent, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, ran a disastrous campaign. She mixed up local sports heroes, did nothing during the first three months of campaigning when she had a solid lead, and had to do last-minute desperate campaigning when Brown gained the lead. She still outperformed most pre-election polls, losing by only four points. All of this added up to the best-case scenario for a Republican in Massachusetts.
Markey is polling in front of all three potential opponents with double-digit leads. It took Brown three months to gain his lead, with no effective opposition until the late stage of the campaign. The Republican contender must do it in one month and against a campaign that is unlikely to just lie down and die like the Coakley campaign.
This election will not be a lighting rod for out-of-state attention that the Brown campaign was in its final frenzied days. On major issues that have become rallying cries for conservative activists, some of the Republican candidates have taken positions that are anathema to them. Gomez, for example, has said that he agrees with President Obama with expanded background checks for guns and immigration reform. Both are the closest things to lighting rods for an electoral push such as the one against Obamacare.
Ultimately the wish for a second 2010 style horse race comes down to political media desperately pushing for a horse race narrative, as is their standard MO. But just as lighting never strikes the same place twice, a political miracle will not happen two times in a row.