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Reading Tea Leaves of Brown's Victory


On Wednesday morning, shaken Democrats and joyful Republicans spoke of messages, signs and guideposts to be gleaned from the stunning victory in Massachusetts of a little-known GOP state senator over a prominent Democrat for a U.S. Senate seat held by the Kennedy family since 1953.

As political upsets go, it was a big one. After all, Massachusetts is perhaps the bluest state on the well-worn and cliched electoral map TV pundits like to drag out on Election Night. Aside from a governor here or there, it is historically a state ruled by Democrats.

The seat up for grabs in this special election was held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy for decades. The last Republican senator from Massachusetts left Washington more than 30 years ago.

So what happened?

Scott Brown's victory over Attorney General Martha Coakley will be analyzed into dust over the next few months. But it could take far longer to determine what it actually means.

In a general way, the outcome reflects growing disillusionment with President Barack Obama's administration, especially regarding the ambitious healthcare plan still lurking in limbo between the Senate and the House while negotiations to reconcile the different versions that the two houses passed continue behind closed doors.

Because of Senate rules it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster, and Brown explicitly made it part of his campaign that he would be the 41st vote against ObamaCare. The fact that this seems to have resonated with voters suggests that neither the House nor the Senate version commands popular support, even in Massachusetts.

Reports from the field suggest that taxes and spending are also issues that resonate with the voters, and not to the Democrats' benefit.

In the short term, the loss is a huge one for Democrats and a win to savor for Republicans. But over the long haul, the Tarot cards are more difficult to read. Those today who believe the outcome is a harbinger of things to come in the fall midterm elections may want to remember that only a year ago Obama was celebrating his inauguration amid a sea of supporters built upon a wave of change. Meanwhile, the Republican Party looked to be on life support.

Political fortunes, it seems, are the most fleeting of all. And the only sure lesson to be learned from an election is that is no lesson can be learned at all.




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Walter Williams
Walter E. WilliamsUpdated 14 Oct 2015
Ben Shapiro
Ben ShapiroUpdated 14 Oct 2015
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