Originally posted on The Huffington Post.**
As many predicted, the revolutionary feeling that swept Scott Brown into office 15 months ago didn’t last. When the Republican wave swept across the nation this past November, it didn’t break in Massachusetts.
Not a single member of the Bay State’s Congressional delegation flipped to the GOP in the midterm election and incumbent Governor Deval Patrick beat out Republican challenger Charlie Baker by a little over 6 points — not bad considering his deserve reelect number was a dismal 29% following Brown’s election.
Today the Governor’s job approval rating is up 13 points from last February, and Barack Obama’s favorability rating has risen 6 points since November to 57%. Democrats are popular again in Massachusetts, no news there.
What’s surprising is Scott Brown’s apparent immunity to Left’s re-found approval. On our most recent Suffolk University poll (April 6th) Brown received a favorable rating of 58%, virtually unchanged since he left for Washington.
The pundits predicted that his popularity wouldn’t last long. After all, would Massachusetts really let a Republican sit on the thrown of progressive ideology?
The numbers backed this up this thesis. In a February 2010 Suffolk University poll, right after Brown’s shocking election, less than half of self-identified Brown voters (47%) said they supported him because he was the best candidate for the job. One quarter (24%) said their support for Brown was a vote against the proposed national health care bill and just over another quarter (27%) said it was a vote against Barack Obama, Martha Coakley or Democrats in general.
This led to the feeling that once these issues dried up there would be little support left for Brown. And yet, against all odds, over half of all voters today (55%) said that Scott Brown deserves to be reelected.
What’s more interesting is the perception of Scott Brown as an independent. In reality, save several key votes, he has marched in lock step with his party. Despite Brown’s voting with the majority of Republicans95% of the time (according to the Washington Post), some 56% of Massachusetts voters believed he has kept his promise to be an independent voice in the U.S. Senate.
But perhaps that’s no too hard to explain. Against the backdrop of the monolithic Republican force in Washington, any break from that agenda seems to make national headlines. Scott Brown’s support for the repeal of DADT, the Democratic jobs bill, and funding for Planned Parenthood (opposing a proposed 100% funding cut) all made a big splash in the media.
In our 2010 February poll, 19% of Democrats reported having voted for Brown. Today, 38% of Democrats said they feel Brown deserves to be reelected, and in head-to-head match-ups Brown beat out every potential Democratic challenger on our poll (including Deval Patrick) by at least 15 points — with the exception of Joe Kennedy who has said he will not run.
Add this bi-partisan support to Brown’s shrewd ability to play the perception game and it all adds up to one thing: Brown is a giant in Massachusetts. Few ever thought he’d make it to Washington, and since then he’s managed to stay on top against all odds. At this point in time he’s going to be tough to beat.
**Co-authored with David Paleologos, Director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center