The chattering class is fond of far-fetched theories that lead to lots of intrigue, and one fanciful idea that has been floating around lately is that Scott Brown is ready for a comeback.
The hypothesis is that if John Kerry is nominated to President Obama’s cabinet, then Brown would be a strong contender to fill Kerry’s seat. It has even been speculated that Senate Republicans went after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice so harshly just to improve Brown’s chance at a comeback.
If you look at the facts, though, you’ll see that Brown is far from the sure bet to win another contest that Republicans hope he is. Consider the following:
Who lost by a bigger margin than almost any candidate in a competitive Senate race in the country?
Scott Brown. The 7.5-point loss he suffered at Elizabeth Warren’s hands was even worse than the 5.5-point loss for Brown’s fellow Republican Richard Mourdock in Indiana—that’s right, the guy who said pregnancy from rape is “something that God intended.” In short, as convenient as it is to refer to the Massachusetts contest between Brown and Warren as a close race, Brown took a beating.
Who was the only incumbent in the entire U.S. Senate to lose in 2012?
Scott Brown. Every one of Brown’s colleagues in the Senate who vied for reelection managed to win. That includes Bill Nelson in the swing state of Florida. That includes Democrat Jon Tester, who held onto his seat in Montana. That includes Bob Casey in the perennial battleground of Pennsylvania. It includes the other Senator Brown—Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Scott Brown proved himself uniquely inept in his failure to fend off his challenger – and to in fact lose by 7.5%. And remember, this wasn’t months or even years ago – this was last month.
Who lost to Elizabeth Warren by the same margin that William Weld lost to John Kerry?
Scott Brown. Weld and Brown both lost by approximately 7.48 points, but Weld was going up against a popular two-term incumbent, whereas Brown was the incumbent facing a first-time political candidate. For all the talk about his special campaign skills and positioning, nothing in the results was very special.
Who in the Massachusetts Senate election appeared to pick up no last-minute support or votes from undecided voters?
You guessed it: Scott Brown. Dozens of polls conducted in the seven months leading up to Election Day show that Brown hovered around the 46% mark the whole time. Of course, 46% is what Brown actually ended up with on Election Day. In other words, Brown made no progress during his campaign, despite an enormous war chest of almost $40 million to spend on it.
These facts tell only part of the story, though. What’s most damning to Brown’s future prospects isn't the margin of his defeat. It’s the campaign he ran and the issues he stood for.
Time and again during the 2012 election, Brown showed that he is dangerously out of step with the people of Massachusetts and more in line with the Tea Party supporters who helped him win back in 2010. Opposing the Buffett Rule, supporting tax cuts for the wealthy, backing the Blunt Amendment to limit people’s access to contraception and health care—Scott Brown dug in on each of these positions and has shown no sign of changing during the lame duck session in Congress.
And on top of his out of sync policy positions that cost him the last race, Brown also ran a pretty despicably negative campaign. He shattered his nice-guy image – something that propelled his fluke 2010 victory – by focusing the majority of his efforts on personal attacks against Warren. And in his final television advertisement, he even went after Warren’s so called support for “illegal aliens.” At a time when the national GOP is desperately searching for an answer to its Latino problem, it’s hard to imagine why anyone sees Scott Brown as the Republicans’ future more than they do Mitt Romney.
Scott Brown won his special election in 2010 because the people of Massachusetts didn't know who he really was. Once they did, they made clear by compelling margin that they don’t want him to be their senator anymore. Pundits have long bought into the hype of Brown’s pick-up truck and barn jacket more than voters, and the 2012 election proved that.