The latest Rasmussen poll shows Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) leading state Sen. Scott Brown (R) by just nine points in the race to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Coakley wins an anemic 50 percent of the vote to Brown’s 41 percent. A few caveats: Rasmussen results are often seen as more pro-Republican than other polls; it is hard to know who will turn out in a special election; even a high single-digit gap is a lot of ground for Brown to make up by the time the election takes place on Jan. 19.
But even if something like those numbers holds up, it could show that discontent with the national Democrats has reached even a significant slice of the Massachusetts electorate. Brown is winning 62 percent of independents, who are now a plurality of Bay State voters. Just breaking 40 percent of the vote against a heavily favored Democrat could position Scott Brown to run for another statewide office where Republicans usually stand a better chance than Senate races. Mitt Romney’s 41 percent against Ted Kennedy set him up to run for governor. Joe Malone parlayed an even weaker showing against Kennedy than that into two terms as state treasurer.