Scott Brown is Toast, and Elizabeth Warren Is the Toaster

At Tuesday night’s Democratic Senatorial debate, Elizabeth Warren showed that she gets it. She may be an academic, but she gets retail politics. And the night as a whole, and recent polls strongly suggests that Scott Brown is probably toast. And that Warren will be the toaster.

The polls, taken a full year out from the 2012 election, show that Warren is already either tied with Scott Brown or slightly ahead of him. And the UMass-Lowell/Herald Poll also shows how commanding Warren’s lead is over her Democratic rivals for the nomination. When potential Democratic primary voters were asked who they would most like to see nominated as the Democratic Party’s candidate to run against Scott Brown, Warren got 36 percent of the votes. That is more than twice as much as all of her other opponents combined.

From the moment she breezed onto the stage in Lowell, Warren stood out. Amidst a sea of dark business suits for both men and women, my eye was drawn to Warren, over there on stage left, wearing a raspberry colored jacket. Her voice is a bit thin for large rooms — even with the help of a microphone — but her confidence and her command of complex economic issues more than make up for that.

She positioned herself in the early going as a fighter for the middle class and had some good, short sound bites. My personal favorite was: “the people on Wall Street broke this country.” I bet we’ll hear that one again. Warren’s view is diametrically opposed to the Republican mantra that the meltdown and all the economic losses we suffered were not the fault of the big banks, but it was all the fault of Barney Frank and all those poor people who bought houses they couldn’t afford. Most Americans, however, can look around and see for themselves: The poor are now poorer than before, and the banks are now bigger than before. Somehow that doesn’t seem to compute with the Republican explanation of things.

On her way out of the debate, Warren performed admirably in the retail politics division, shaking hands, posing for pictures, taking questions. She can do this. One gentleman with a tape recorder asked about the odd debate format, with 15 seconds allotted for some answers and one minute for most. Warren said something like Golly, I can hardly clearly my throat in one minute — that was hard.

Because some of things she hopes to fix are so mind-numbingly complex — like derivatives — it is understandable that Professor Warren would like more time to explain things. She is really at her best in places like the Charlie Rose show. But appearances on the Charlie Rose show have not won elections for many people. So she will keep working on TV speak. And she will master it and keep getting better and honing her message.

And over the coming year, with each vote in Congress, Brown will have to choose whether to further infuriate his Tea Party supporters, or alienate the majority of Massachusetts voters. In a poll just released, the percentage of those who strongly approve of the job the Republicans are doing in Congress is a mere 4 percent. A whopping 54 percent strongly disapprove. With each vote, Brown’s personal approval ratings will slowly get whittled away from either the left or the right. Either way, it’s bad for Brown, good for Warren.

The other Democratic candidates are all worthy people with the best of intentions. The man sitting next to me with his pocket-sized version of the Constitution in his hand kept saying very nice things about the answers of many of the other candidates. But it appears that the train has left the station. Newton Mayor Setti Warren realized it, and that is why he already dropped out of the race.

Elizabeth Warren will win the Democratic primary and will go on to beat Scott Brown and become our next Senator. You can tell people you read it here. Unless I’m wrong. Then tell them something else and distract them.