If voters saw something extraordinary in Ms. Warren, then Mr. Brown might be expected to prevail against a mediocre opponent, as he did in 2010 against the Democratic state attorney general, Martha Coakley. If instead it was something intrinsic to the problem that any Republican faces in Massachusetts, then even a lesser-known Democrat could win.Ms. Warren’s favorability rating — 56 percent among Election Day voters — was perfectly adequate but not extraordinary. And 37 percent of voters said they thought Ms. Warren was too liberal, even in Massachusetts.But such is the intrinsic advantage that Democrats hold in Massachusetts that Ms. Warren won the election anyway. A “generic” Democrat who avoided the mistakes that Ms. Coakley made (like insulting the former Boston Red Sox star pitcher Curt Schilling) would thus seem to stand a reasonably good chance.
And I agree with Nate: Martha Coakley was an unusually terrible candidate. But Brown still has a shot:
There are other circumstances, however, that could work in Mr. Brown’s favor. Most important is the abbreviated schedule for a special election.In a special election campaign that lasts only a few months, the Democratic candidate would not have the luxury of overcoming early errors, as Ms. Warren did. That is especially true because the Democrat would probably face a competitive primary, while Mr. Brown would probably not.The overall political environment is not likely to be as favorable to Democrats in a special election as it was in November (although it also will probably not be as unfavorable to them as in 2010). And there could be an element of sympathy for Mr. Brown among some swing voters.
So what's the bottom line, Nate?
Despite all that, it is difficult to view Mr. Brown as much better than even money: he is a Republican in Massachusetts who lost an election by a reasonably clear margin just last month. And if Mr. Brown won, he could well face another competitive election in November 2014, when Democrats will have more of a chance to gear up — and when Deval Patrick will have finished his second term as governor and might be more likely to run for the Senate.
A lot depends on who Democrats decide to run against Brown, too. Ben Affleck has been mentioned as an unlikely choice, while better political money has Barney Frank in the seat (he's not saying no, should he be appointed by Gov. Patrick.) We'll see who runs, after all, Scott Brown hasn't announced much of anything, and running for Senate is expensive, folks.