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What Scott Brown's victory means to Senate power balance

Last week's shocking GOP victory in the special election to fill Ted Kennedy's old seat knocks out the Democrats' Senate supermajority, but it also sends a signal that the party's liberal agenda is losing steam.

Scott Brown won by a 52-47 percent margin over Democrat Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, taking a seat in a state that hadn't seen a Republican senator since the mid-1970s.

This surprise win breaks a 60-40 choke hold the Democrats have on the Senate, a margin that gave that party the power to quash debate on critical legislative issues. While the seat won't make a great difference in voting, it does give the GOP a voice for the first time in more than a year.

One could say recent Republican wins -- in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia -- are little more than the balance of power doing its usual leveling-out process. But that's doubtful. As evidenced by the tea party and 9/12 movements, people are striking back, and the voters are listening.

"What happened in Massachusetts is just part of an American awakening," Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said Sunday. "We saw it in Virginia and New Jersey. We see it all over the country in tea parties and town halls. People are alarmed and angry about the spending, the debt, the government takeovers."

Although DeMint suggested last summer that losing the national health care plan would break the back of Obama's agenda, he's softened his stance a bit.

"I did not want this to be the President's Waterloo, but pushing through a massive government takeover of our health care system was certainly not a good idea," he said.

Already there's some backlash:

  • Democrats say the proposed national health care plan is on hold until Brown is seated next month. "It's dead for the time being," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

  • There's talk Congress may scrap what health care bill they have and try again. Jim Webb, Brad Ellsworth, Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, and Anthony Weiner were among the legislators saying they're willing to rethink the ObamaCare plan, and in recent days more Democrats are taking that angle.

  • Democratic senators elsewhere are getting the message. Barbara Boxer of California--a state that rivals Massachusetts as the bluest of them all--is reportedly getting nervous about her own re-election chances next year. "I think every state is now in play," she said. "Never, ever, ever take an election for granted."
  • According to former Clinton advisor Dick Morris, Obama's power base fell apart as the Massachusetts votes were counted. "Ultimately this is the end of the Obama ascendancy," Morris told Fox News. "He will never get another major piece of legislation passed."


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