Ted Kennedy had the fight of his life in 1994 against Mitt Romney and nearly lost. Ted Kennedy had a conflicted relationship with Massachusetts, he was our favored son, but one we rebuked often and scorned, but always we decided he should represent us, instead of that fortunate son, Mitt Romney, the guy who was partly from Michigan and Utah, but certainly not Massachusetts. He is after all a carpetbagger, through and through. But, we accept that too, that is part of the political landscape. Even Kerry had a tough fight in his first re-election bid against Miles Rappaport and against Weld.
And up until Deval Patrick was elected the Governor of Massachusetts, it was dominated by Republicans, from 1990 to 2007. Campaigning statewide has never been a given for Democrats, even in Senate races. I grew up in Massachusetts and actually lived there for the majority of my first 28 years of life. I have viewed politics as an observer and as an activist. Massachusetts is not liberal, at all. Where I grew up, it is full of working class people who as Jimmy Barnes said: "Working hard to make a living...They believe in God and Elvis...have denim in their veins." Northeastern Massachusetts is similar to parts of the midwest, patriotic (which means "we fight and the limousine liberals complain"), socially conservative (abortion, divorce, gay marriage very much frowned upon), not many college graduates ("those lily livered, latte drinking Ivy leaguers won't tell me what to do!") and conventionally economically liberal (pro-union, think the rich get away with murder, etc.).
These voters voted heavily for Obama on his populist message, but also voted for Bush twice, probably voted for Clinton and gave Reagan his mandate, though the state decidedly went Democrat in those elections. But, these voters sway. And these voters get more conservative as you go out West toward New York. They also don't like when you lie to them as it is easily argued Obama lied about healthcare, Wall St, etc. These voters are weary of government, but also believe it is government's job to help, unlike say in Texas where the same voters would probably call this socialism. In Ma., it is not like that, the working class folks want relief from the government and healthcare reform (as in a public option, not the current bill that is designed to piss everyone off). So, they are pissed and in my opinion, rightly so. The democrats, though I hope win don't deserve this, at all.
Martha Coakley seems to be a bad candidate. She thought the seat was hers, didn't really want to work hard and Brown populism took over. He just may have enough in his tank. He is a good looking candidate, who doesn't have to say much, can contradict himself all over the place and not have to answer for it because he is riding a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment. But, Brown also has a ceiling. The democratic registration far outweighs a lot of the anti-incumbency. If the Dems get the vote out , they can win, period. If they don't it is going to be a nail biter.
I would have predicted Coakley a day or so ago, but it seems like a perfect storm and if I were a guessing man, I might lean Brown right now. Shame on the Democrats.