All eyes on the health care prize

If it's Tuesday, this must be Boston. As many pundits before me have noted, what an upset it will be if Republican challenger Scott Brown pulls off the "Massachusetts miracle" and wins the Bay State's special Senate election Tuesday. He will then deny Democrats their supermajority and kill the current version of the health care bill. He will ironically occupy Ted Kennedy's seat, whose death has been a "Do it for Ted" rallying cry for those pushing the bill's passage (Brown's line in the last debate about how the seat was "not Ted Kennedy's, but the people's" was a political home run).

The seat's been Democrat for at least 47 years. Massachusetts hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972. It should have been an easy win for Dem challenger Martha Coakley. But the president's approval rating on health care stands at a dismal 36 percent, with far more Americans opposed to the current plan than supporting it. If Brown wins, Reid has indicated (threatened?) he'll delay the swearing in ceremony until after the health care vote, thereby ensuring a 'yea' vote by the interim seat holder. Fine. The larger point is that Coakley is the Democrats' canary in the coalmine for the 2010 elections. In Massachusetts, of all places, she's gasping for breath.

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