Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley campaigns in a Boston bar, Monday, Jan. 18, 2010.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley campaigns in a Boston bar, Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. Steven Senne/AP
Democrats' plans to overhaul the nation's health system are in doubt as the prospects for a Republican takeover of Edward Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts have brightened.
An analysis of the latest polls by the prescient Web site FiveThirtyEight.com says Republican State Senator Scott Brown is a 3-to-1 favorite over Democrat Martha Coakley, the state's attorney general, in today's special election.
Predictions in special elections are prone to more error than the garden variety Senate race, the site's Nate Silver writes. He figures Coakley could still pull it out, but "her situation looks to be increasingly difficult."
If Coakley loses, despite a last-minute push by President Obama on her behalf, Democrats would lose their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, jeopardizing the prospects for health overhaul.
WBUR in Boston reported on the frenetic campaigning over the weekend. "Understand what's at stake here, Massachusetts," President Obama said at a Sunday rally in Boston. "It's whether we are going forward or going backwards. It's whether we are going to have a future where everybody gets a shot in this society or just the privileged few."
A win by Brown could bring a fresh start to Republican's efforts to stymie health overhaul. Brown has pledged to become the 41st vote in the Senate against the bill.
If Brown prevails, the fate of overhaul would shift to the House of Representatives. Legislators there could keep things rolling by accepting the Senate version of overhaul as is, avoiding another Senate vote. But the Senate version of overhaul is far less palatable to House Democrats because of compromises, such as the absence of a public option, made to win support from moderates, including Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent.