updated below


Bob McDonnell won the Virginia governorship because he was running against a pitifully weak Democratic candidate, but also because he used economic discontent, something Frank Rich talks about today, which extends to health care, while utilizing Democrats in Washington as the target model, tapping into what independents are feeling right now, while simultaneously capitalizing on a demoralized Democratic base and an energized Republican electorate out for political blood. Nowhere to be seen was McDonnell’s Pat Robertson, right-wing past, with his economic message even able to overcome his disastrous thesis that basically branded women as only good to be barefoot and pregnant. It’s the McDonnell model, which I talked about in psychodrew’s “In the News” diary, this quote from a conservative blog the key:

I heard Brown on a few talk shows and he is smart to not uncork too much rabid conservative issues, keeping with the economic angles and staying away from the hot social issues that got the GOP in hot water in 2006 and 2008.

I know I’m a broken record on this, but without right-wing radio, the McDonnell model’s success isn’t possible. That Fox News is thriving while other networks are dying is another example of how the stage is being set. Just read the profile about Ailes in the New York Times today.

In Massachusetts against Martha Coakley, someone who I’ve interviewed and know is as strong a female senator as we’re ever going to get, the McDonnell model is being used again, with the current trend very confused at this point, with PPP showing Scott Brown, her Republican opponent, ahead, the Boston Globe reporting otherwise. Brown is focusing on the economic issues, including negative talking points against “Obamacare,” to pummel Coakley senseless. From the Globe:

Democrat Martha Coakley, buoyed by her durable statewide popularity, enjoys a solid, 15-percentage-point lead over Republican rival Scott Brown as the race for US Senate enters the homestretch, according to a new Boston Globe poll of likely voters.

Half of voters surveyed said they would pick Coakley, the attorney general, if the election were held today, compared with 35 percent who would pick Brown. Nine percent were undecided, and a third candidate in the race, independent Joseph L. Kennedy, received 5 percent.

Coakley’s lead grows to 17 points – 53 percent to 36 percent – when undecideds leaning toward a candidate are included in the tally. The results indicate that Brown has a steep hill to climb to pull off an upset in the Jan. 19 election. Indeed, the poll indicated that nearly two-thirds of Brown’s supporters believe Coakley will win.

Democrats shouldn’t take any chances, as PPP is not Rasmussen.

As an aside and looking ahead, the McDonnell model is Mitt Romney’s playbook.

As for the final days in the Massachusetts race, Democrats should mobilize hard, poll later. Because losing Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy’s seat no less, would have catastrophic reverberations, including on health care. It would inspire a collective cave in from congressional Democrats that would leave us with only the Senate bill, which is a disastrous gift for Republicans that could be utilized as a rallying cry, that when coupled with the McDonnell it’s the economy model, with cultural issues left untouched could be real trouble for Democrats going forward, as well as for policy, if they succeed. Because “cultural” issues, aka civil rights for women and gays to mention just too, but also DADT, would be the first policy victims if Republicans gain power.

The Republican in to the voters’ hearts is the economy, of which health care is a huge part, mainly due to the disastrous leadership of Obama and the Democrats, who let the right hijack the message and sew talking points into the broader electorate that allows the economy to be a cudgel. Massachusetts now a bell rung on what’s at stake, as well as what else will be in jeopardy if we lose Teddy’s seat.

UPDATE (1.11): Polling today shows Coakley with solid lead, so whatever the PPP polling revealed, it sure jolted everyone awake.