As Scott Brown's first year in the Senate comes to a close he remains an extremely formidable political presence and leads five hypothetical 2012 reelection opponents by margins ranging anywhere from 7 to 19 points.
Vicki Kennedy (48-41) and Deval Patrick (49-42) do the best against Brown, each trailing by 7 points. Ed Markey trails by 10 (49-39), Mike Capuano does by 16 (52-36), and Stephen Lynch does by 19 (49-30).
Brown is one of the most popular Senators in the country, with 53% of voters approving of his job performance and only 29% disapproving. He continues to have incredible appeal to independents, with whom his approval spread is 61/25. He also breaks nearly even among Democrats with 35% approving and 41% disapproving of what he's done so far. The only other Republican Senators PPP's polled on this year with that much appeal to Democrats are Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Lindsey Graham. What sets Brown apart from that trio is he's managed to generate that popularity across party lines without antagonizing voters in his own party- Republicans give him a 74/13 approval.
PPP's final poll for the special election found Brown defeating Martha Coakley by 32 points with independents. He's looking at a pretty comparable margin in all of these match ups, leading Lynch by 34, Kennedy by 33, Capuano by 31, Markey by 30, and Patrick by 29 with them. The other key aspect of Brown's victory in January was that we found him winning 19% of the Democratic vote. He actually exceeds that in each of these match ups, getting 28% of Dems against Capuano, 25% against Lynch and Markey, and 22% against Kennedy and Patrick.
Beyond the fact that the election is 23 months away these numbers should also be taken with a grain of salt because the folks we tested, with the exception of Patrick, aren't all that well known. 50% of voters have no opinion of Lynch, 47% don't know Capuano, 37% are ambivalent toward Markey, and even with Kennedy 29% don't express an opinion. Obviously if any of these folks, or someone not tested on this poll, emerged as the Democratic nominee they'd have much more visibility and opportunity to make the case that they'd be better than Brown.
For now though it seems Brown has done pretty much everything right- he's just as strong with independents as he was in January, stronger with Democrats, and he's accomplished those things without ticking off the base. It would be hard to find a politician who's had a more impressive year.
Full results here