It should not be particularly surprising news that former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown is floundering in his attempt to return to Congress, this time as a senator from New Hampshire. The formula Brown used to win his first race is no longer working for him — and he’s currently doing even worse in New Hampshire than he did in Massachusetts in 2012.
The latest NBC News/Marist poll shows Brown trailing incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen 50 to 42 percent, with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 points. The Real Clear Politics poll average has him behind by 12 points. And there’s little reason to believe that the well-liked Shaheen — who has a favorability rating of 52 percent, compared to the 40 percent who view Brown favorably — is going to see her numbers collapse.
Brown catapulted to fame after he won the 2010 special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy, mostly because he was able to garner a large amount of support from independent voters. That’s not the case anymore. An American Research Group poll shows that 53 percent of unaffiliated voters support Shaheen, while only 28 percent of voters want Brown to take her Senate seat.
Brown’s also struggling to fend off charges that he is a carpetbagger — and he’s not helping himself by failing to remember which state he’s in. Brown has accidentally confused Massachusetts with New Hampshire multiple times. In a Boston Herald radio interview, he referenced the Massachusetts delegation when talking about the DREAM Act. He’s also told reporters that he wanted to focus on the issues affecting “not only people here in Massachusetts — ah, New Hampshire.” It doesn’t look good to voters who wonder if he’d rather still be representing Massachusetts, not the state to which he just moved.
In 2012, Elizabeth Warren successfully focused the campaign on the GOP’s “war on women,” even though Brown is pro-choice and supports access to birth control. But he has a major weakness when it comes to attracting female voters: His past support for the Blunt Amendment, which would have let employers use religion as an excuse not to provide women with coverage for services that included mammograms and preventive care. That’s even more restrictive than the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision.
Brown’s support for “religious freedom” makes Hobby Lobby a very messy situation for him. His original response to the ruling simply said that the solution would be to repeal Obamacare. Later that week, he said that he supported religious freedom “even though that may be out of touch with public opinion.” That’s made it easy for Democrats to paint him as out of touch on women’s health.
When The Guardian’s Paul Lewis tried to get a more coherent response from him, Brown first declined to answer the question. So Lewis told him, “But you’re standing for Senate. It is routine for journalists to ask you questions and usually the candidates answer.”
Instead of responding like a normal candidate who’s trying to win an election would, Brown said, “Not without notifying my office first.” He then got up and literally “took shelter in the bathroom.”
This sort of strange behavior repeated itself every time Lewis tried to ask him a question, until his staff eventually summoned the police to prevent the candidate from having to talk to Lewis. That’s not how a functioning campaign works.
Brown’s people seem to be aware that his chances of success are waning: They recently released a memo detailing “Scott Brown’s path to victory.” Not what you’d expect a winning campaign to do months before the election.
Photo: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr
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