In general, the Dems are in big trouble in 2012, Senate-race-wise. They start with a small 53-47 majority (counting two independents who currently caucus as Dems.) They they have to defend 22 seats versus just 10 for the Repubs. They have six incumbents who are retiring, compared with just two for the Repubs. And While many of the currently Dem-held seats are in red or purple states, the Repubs have only one seat up from a purple state (Olympia Snowe in Maine) and one from a blue state (Scott Brown in Mass.) The Dems are going to lose some of those red states and they need a pickup in Massachusetts fairly desperately as an offset.
Scott Brown’s come from behind win over Dem nominee Martha Coakley in the Jan. 2010 special election to replace Ted Kennedy was a huge deal, as it cost the Dems their then 60-vote filibuster-majority. Coming in blue-blue Massachusetts, which hadn’t elected a Repub senator since 1972, it was also a signal of how strong a wind was developing behind the Repubs.
It was also largely about a more talented candidate (Brown) beating a very week one. Brown has had relatively high approval ratings during his term and must face the electorate in 2012, very likely in the person of Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor, consumer advocate, blunt critic of abuses in the financial industry and, until recently a special assistant to Pres. Obama.
Warren recently had a very successful rollout and the polling in the hypothetical Brown v. Warren race has changed dramatically, with one recent poll showing her with a statistically insignificant lead over Brown.
Despite her Ivy League ties (which The New Republic sees as a potential breeding ground for political problems for her) Warren has displayed a very down-to-earth quality since she started doing the TV talk shows.If you haven’t caught her act, the clip below give you a taste. Brown had better watch out.