Early Thoughts on Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts election of a Republican to Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat is going to be presented as a referendum on health care, which is odd for a state that currently has the only universal health care system in the country. And one that is very similar to the national proposal.

But if you look at what voters actually said, it seems more a rebuke of the way Washington has handled it than the substance of reform itself. From the New York Times story:

I’m hoping that it gives a message to the country,” said Marlene Connolly, 73, of North Andover, a lifelong Democrat who said she cast her first vote for a Republican on Tuesday. I think if Massachusetts puts Brown in, it’s a message of ‘that’s enough.’ Let’s stop the giveaways and let’s get jobs going.

It's not so much the health care bill itself, as the perception of the way government is acting. Maybe that's why the White House is pretending the health care bill had nothing to do with state Sen. Scott Brown's win. And it is why Josh Marshall thinks the Democrats should go out fighting tomorrow, rather than retreating.

I cannot say this enough. The policy front speaks for itself. But the meta-politics is real. It's a big. But it's something Democrats have great difficulty with. For a whole variety of reasons voters clearly have a lot of hesitation about this reform. I think the polls make clear that the public is not against it. But the reticence is real. If Dems decide to run from the whole project in the face of a single reverse, what are voters supposed to draw from that? What conclusion would you draw about an individual in an analogous situation in your own life? Think about it.

Regardless, there were so many other things at play -- Martha Coakley's poorly run campaign, Brown's personality -- that it's not time to get too up in arms. Yet.

-- Monica Potts

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