Scott Brown's very bad omen: What his dopey campaign says about Democrats' prospects

Now the New Hampshire Senate race may be tightening, too. The Ebola/ISIS/border strategy is a smash hit!

Published October 16, 2014 2:49PM (EDT)

Scott Brown                    (AP/Alex Brandon)
Scott Brown (AP/Alex Brandon)

As if Democrats needed anything else to worry about, there is the New Hampshire situation.

Former naked Senate person Scott Brown enjoyed being a senator. What's not to like? You get to work in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body and deliberate until the cows come home. Then he lost a reelection bid to Elizabeth Warren in 2012 and couldn't be a senator anymore. So he moved to New Hampshire and said, sure, this is good enough, I'll be a senator from here. New Hampshire is a blue state -- redder than some other New England states, sure -- and his challenger, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, is relatively popular up there.

Well guess what, Scott Brown may win it anyway. A New England College poll released yesterday showed Brown ahead by about 1 percentage point. A SurveyUSA poll before that showed Brown only down by 2. Most other polls before that had Shaheen somewhere between 5 and 10 percentage points up. Maybe these two polls, showing a tightening race, are just outliers. Maybe they're not.

Scott Brown doesn't matter, in terms of Senate control. If Scott Brown wins in New Hampshire, that probably means that the Democrats have already well and truly lost the Senate. If Scott Brown wins, then Cory Gardner, Joni Ernst, Thom Tillis, David Perdue, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Mike Rounds, Tom Cotton, Bill Cassidy, Dan Sullivan, Shelley Moore Capito, and Steve Daines (the Republican Montana guy) will also have won. It will have already been a blowout by the time naked Scott Brown and his red truck pull into the Senate parking lot.

I'm sort of a doom-and-gloom guy. And it is people like Scott Brown, and campaigns like the Scott Brown campaign, that make me think, well, maybe this just isn't the Democrats' year. Democrats are considered to be running "good" campaigns, according to the political consultant class, which only prides itself on how high it can build its defensive walls. In Kentucky, there's rising hot shot Alison Lundergan Grimes, whose team is so savvy, it won't even allow her to suggest she ever supported President Obama. Meanwhile she's trying to play to the right of Mitch McConnell on immigration, decrying "amnesty." Embattled Democrats dream for the opportunity to get "to the right" of their opponents. One can only imagine the excitement Mary Landrieu felt in the debate earlier this week when Bill Cassidy said he supports medical marijuana, and Landrieu got to say that she didn't. What Democratic Senate candidate doesn't love the opportunity to take such a deplorably conservative position in 2014? This "control of the Senate" thing had better matter, now that nothing else does.

Meanwhile, on what sort of tight rope does Scott Brown, or any Republican in any state around the country, really, have to walk? None whatsoever. Scott Brown seems like a nice enough guy but he's not that bright. This makes him a perfect fit for the 2014 election cycle. All he has to do is dip his hand into the Fear Bowl and read whatever silly, but almost certainly effective, combination of nonsense words are on the card. Here's his version of the can't-lose Ebola/ISIS/border triple axel, in response to a question about travel restrictions on passengers from West Africa.

We need a comprehensive approach and I think that should be part of it. I think it’s all connected. For example, we have people coming into our country by legal means bringing in diseases and other potential challenges. Yet we have a border that’s so porous that anyone can walk across it. I think it’s naive to think that people aren’t going to be walking through here who have those types of diseases and/or other types of intent, criminal or terrorist. And yet we do nothing to secure our border. It’s dangerous. And that’s the difference. I voted to secure it. Senator Shaheen has not.

Only comedy can ensue. Scott Brown says, "I think it's all connected," and he doesn't disappoint here. Wow! And yet this will work just fine, because irrational fear is in the air and irrational fear of everything makes people vote for conservatives. Scott Brown shouldn't be anywhere close to viable in New Hampshire, a state where he's pretended to live for five minutes. These are strange times. Frightening, really.

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

MORE FROM Jim Newell