Brown's victory represents a rejection of Obama administration policies that were a departure from those of the Bush administration. In contrast, on Afghanistan, where Obama is stepping up the fight, Brown backed Obama while his hapless left-wing opponent Martha Coakley was forced (her word) to oppose it to win dovish votes in the Democratic primary.
Democrats will be tempted to dismiss Brown's victory as a triumph of an appealing candidate and the rejection of an opponent who proved to be a dud. But Brown would never have been competitive if Americans generally favored the policies of the Obama administration and congressional Democratic leaders. In that case, even a dud would have trounced the man who drives a truck.
Unfortunately, there was no exit poll (because news organizations didn't think this would be a seriously contested race until 10 days ago), and so we can't be sure whether, as at least one pre-election poll indicated, Brown swept young voters in a state where they voted 78 percent to 20 percent for Barack Obama.
But a look at the incoming election results in Massachusetts's cities and towns shows the depth and breadth of his support. Brown ran especially far ahead of John McCain's 36 percent in blue-collar areas, and turnout was sharply down in inner-city neighborhoods of Boston and old mill towns.
In other words, those who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the Democrats' health care and "spreading the wealth around" either trended Republican or stayed home.
Brown's gains were not as great in areas dominated by what the New York Times' David Brooks called, perhaps archly, "the educated class." Cambridge and Amherst remained solidly monopartisan. But in suburbs with many upward strivers, people who (like Brown) have worked their way from the economic margins to some comfort, turnout was almost as high as in November 2008. Towns that split evenly in the presidential race went two to one for Brown.
Obama and "the educated class" think they know what is best for the little guy. The voters of Massachusetts (Massachusetts!) beg to differ. Is anyone in the White House listening?
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