By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
With a new poll showing Republican Scott Brown clearly ahead in Tuesday's special election, two more Democratic ally groups have joined the battle for the Massachusetts senate seat. According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has bought $100,000 worth of radio ads supporting Democrat Martha Coakley, while the League of Conservation Voters has bought $350,000 worth of television time for a new ad blasting Brown.
AFSCME and the LCV join a crowded field of outside groups. And while Coakley allies are outspending Brown's supporters 2-1, Brown--suddenly a national Republican darling--is pulling in $1 million per day. The new outside entries may be the last into the race. According to the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza,
the television airwaves have reached their saturation point -- one Republican tells the Fix that there is almost no television time left to buy. What that likely means is that the paid media for both sides will likely cancel itself out and the final few days will be a battle for so-called earned media ... That means that what Coakley and Brown do -- or don't do -- tactically over the next few days on the stump can make all the difference.
That's not great news for Coakley, who has run a lackluster campaign thus far.
Also bad news is the new Suffolk University poll showing Brown having pulled ahead to a 50-46 lead. That's within the poll's 4.38 percent margin of error, but it's grim and just gets more so as one digs into the numbers. Brown is the most popular politician in the state, with a 57 percent approval rating. ( Today he's actually not the most popular, as Bill Clinton and his 60 percent approval rating are stumping for Coakley.) Coakley has a 49 percent rating.
And while Democrats have tried to nationalize the race, arguing that the healthcare reform plan hinges on its outcome, 51 percent disapprove of the bill. (While a majority--54 percent--approve of Massachusetts' healthcare plan, 62 percent believe the commonwealth cannot afford it.) In addition, 64 percent said that she would toe the party line in Washington (which fits into Brown's narrative that he would be independent and she a party hack).
Privately, Democrats argue that Suffolk is not reliable, and point to the wide spread of poll numbers that have come out recently. Of the five polls taken in the last 10 days, the spread has ranged from Brown winning by four to Coakley up by 14. Pollster.com's poll average still has Coakley leading 47.7-45.8.