Democrats Anxious Over a Once-Safe Seat

Abby Goodnough
The New York Times
January 7, 2010

BOSTON — Martha M. Coakley, the Democrat running for Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, had seemed so certain of winning the special election on Jan. 19 that she barely campaigned last month.

But the dynamic has changed in recent days. The news that two senior Democratic senators will retire this year in the face of bleak re-election prospects has created anxiety and, even in this bluest of states, a sense that the balance of power has shifted dramatically from just a year ago.

With the holidays over and public attention refocused on the race, Ms. Coakley’s insistence on debating her Republican opponent, Scott P. Brown, only with a third-party candidate present has drawn mounting criticism.

And a new poll that showed a competitive race between Ms. Coakley and Mr. Brown has generated buzz on conservative blogs and energized the Brown campaign — though many news organizations dispute its methodology….

…The poll that suggested Ms. Coakley’s lead was narrowing, which was conducted by Rasmussen Reports and does not meet the polling standards of The New York Times because it relied on automated telephone calls, suggested Mr. Brown had strikingly strong support among independent voters. But most of them are unlikely to come out for a special election at an odd time of year, Ms. Marsh said.

“The only people who come out in an election like this,” Ms. Marsh said, “are the diehards.”…

The article continues at NYT.

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