THE SPINE JULY 2, 2010
I don't usually pay much attention to political polls. But I couldn't ignore this one with the stunning subhead, "Most popular official in survey." Reported in the Boston Globe on June 28, it was taken by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center a few days before.
"Asked their opinion of Brown, 55% of those polled said they view him favorably." What was really surprising was that only 18% of those asked viewed him unfavorably. Among independent -the majority of the state's voters- a tiny 11% saw him in an unfavorable light. And among party Democrats 32% thought of him negatively. Of course, it's a long time till November 2012 when he must run for re-election...but these are formidable numbers for the Democrats to overcome.
And what about the favorable/unfavorable ratings for Barack Obama? The "yes" data says 54% "No" registers in at 41%. This is not good news for the home party.
A Globe columnist, Yvonne Abraham, reacted with resentment to these statistics barely grasped by anyone. Something about the $19 billion charges that will or will not be billed to the banks. (By the way, although I don't quite understand the issue, I'm not indifferent to the matter: I'm for whatever Barney Frank is for.)
She also resented the fact the newly minted senator seems to be the margin. "Obviously, I am the key vote. They know they have to keep me in the loop." To which the columnist responded: "No matter what Brown does, he's a populist hero."
He says he needs the Fourth of July recess to decide whether to vote for the Wall Street reforms...But he needn't lose any sleep. Whatever he decides, Scott Brown can do no wrong.
The Globe editorialists were also exercised, but more reasonably, this morning: "Brown forces new finance bill, now he must support it."
More than his Republican colleagues, Brown has tried to steer a moderate course on financial reform, accepting the need for closer regulation while looking out for the concerns of local employers such as Mass Mutual and Fidelity. But the final vote on the financial bill will present him with a stark choice: Impose reforms that reassure the public and promote sound markets, or go back to letting Wall Street do whatever it wants.
Brown seems to be on the minds of many these days, perhaps because he is so popular. Jon Chait, for example, in one of his late afternoon blogs, "Scott Brown's Smoke and Mirrors," on taxes and roll-over 401(K)'s. I don't know much about this either since I ended by 401(K) a few years ago, figuring I could do better investing my own way. In any case, Jon thinks that the senator's plan is a gimmick. Maybe. Maybe not.