News Release: Faculty Experts, Politics

Jan. 20,  2010

Senate Win in Massachusetts Presents Challenges for Democrats

The outcome in the Massachusetts Senate race was a result of a combination of factors, some national and some peculiar to the race such as the poor campaign run by the Democratic candidate, says Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz, a renowned expert on national politics and elections.

Republican candidate Scott Brown beat Democrat Martha Coakley in a special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy's post, one that he held for nearly 50 years.

"Clearly the national forces, including continued weakness of the job market, President Obama's declining approval ratings, and growing voter unease about the Democratic health care plan, have the potential to hurt Democrats in the midterm elections," Abramowitz says. While some Democratic losses are almost inevitable, the extent of those losses will depend on what happens over the next several months, he says.  

"The immediate impact of Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate election is that it is going to make it much more difficult for Democrats to pass health care reform legislation in the current Congress," Abramowitz says.  "Beyond that, the impact is less clear because Senate Democrats weren't united on other issues anyway. The main impact may be that it will be more difficult for the President to keep moderate Democrats in both chambers in line and to win over the handful of moderate Republicans left in the Senate on issues such as climate change and financial regulatory reform."

Abramowitz is the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory. His expertise includes election forecasting models, party realignment in the United States, congressional elections and the effects of political campaigns on the electorate. Abramowitz has authored or coauthored four books, including "Voice of the People: Elections and Voting Behavior in the United States."


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