What Massachusetts is really about…

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Market Watch:

As Massachusetts voters on Tuesday decide who will fill Edward Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat, shares of Aetna Inc. and other large insurance companies rallied on the thinking that the close race further thwarts efforts at health reform.

On Wall Street, the major stock indexes advanced, led by health-care stocks including Coventry Health Care Inc. (CVH 26.72, +1.52, +6.03%), recently up 5.6%, and Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY 37.43, +1.61, +4.50%), which advanced 5.1%.

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4 Responses to “What Massachusetts is really about…”

  1. Eric Schmidt Says:

    A few observations on the race in general, which I am absolutely obsessed with:

    1) The outlook for Coakley is not good. Even if you only aggregate opinion polls done by partisan, Democratic organizations, Coakley still loses by only barely less than the margin of error. The only way she wins is if the opinion polls have seriously underrepresented elderly voters who cast absentee ballots, or Democratic voters who just don’t respond to opinion polls, but that’s seems like a stretch. It’s POSSIBLE she will win, but right now I would put her odds at about 15-20 percent. In other words, I’d be a bit surprised if she pulled it off, but I’d calm down in about ten seconds and be curious to find out how she did it. This could go both ways, in the sense that anything could go both ways, but some of us are seeing the writing on the wall.

    2) One major question is whether Obama’s public appearance on Sunday will help or hurt Coakley, given Obama’s typically lower approval rating in a midterm election year. Scott Brown has emphasized many times that he’s closer to the President’s positions on some key issues, notably the decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. When the Republican candidate can tell the Democrat that “I’m with the President and you’re not,” it starts a domino effect of cognitive dissonance with some serious staying power. It doesn’t hurt Brown that he doesn’t advocate overturning Roe v. Wade, which seems to be the most important litmus test in Massachusetts for being a competitive Republican candidate.

    3) The problem might not actually be with Democratic voters not turning out, since for the first time in quite a while, there are more independents in Massachusetts than either Democrats or Republicans. I’ve heard more concern about whether the pro-Brown Democrats are actually going to come out in droves, or whether the doom-and-gloom outlook for Coakley will keep some of them home. At any rate, the independents are voting for Brown over Coakley by about 3 to 1. It’s strange to say it, but there aren’t enough Democrats LEFT in Massachusetts to win any senatorial election handily without independents. (Lest we forget, the governor of Massachusetts was a Republican from 1991 to 2007; moderate Republicans have fared alright there under certain circumstances, the most important being a willingness to disagree with the GOP on abortion rights, as mentioned earlier.)

    4) The race may or may not decide the health care bill. Massachusetts, thanks to Mitt Romney, already has the functional equivalent of universal health insurance coverage, one major reason why voters there aren’t impressed by the ‘need’ to gain a 60th vote in the Senate to pass health care reform. However, the race will absolutely decide how the Democrats decide to proceed with HCR. If Coakley loses, they can still ram through a muddled, imperfect, crepuscular version of HCR before she is sworn in, since interim Sen. Paul Kirk would be a dependable 60th vote. One (unlikely but plausible) possibility is a very tight race that requires a recount process spanning several months, during which time the Democrats would have more time to pass a better version of HCR before Scott Brown is sworn in. The big myth here is that HCR is sunk if Coakley loses; it’s truer that worthwhile, effective HCR is sunk if she loses, since a Coakley loss would mean a Democratic scramble to pass a bill while they still have 60 votes. And something as important as HCR shouldn’t be passed through conference committee in two weeks, even though it looks like that might be the case; the House is saying right now that they wouldn’t pass the Senate bill as is, but I suspect they’ll change their minds if the Stupak amendment can be swiftly passed through the conference bill in time.

    Moral of the story: The race isn’t about whether health care reform passes. It’s about how and when it passes, and whether it looks anything like what supporters originally envisioned.

  2. Gerald Cox Says:

    Eric: you are very good at this. Keep it up.

  3. Gerald Cox Says:

    Eric, you are very good at this. Keep it up.

  4. Gerald Cox Says:

    Posting on a blackberry leads to me getting confused about whether my post went through or not.

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