WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Next week's special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., could change the balance of power in Washington, political analysts say.
A Republican victory by Massachusetts state Sen. Scott Brown would give the GOP 41 seats in the U.S. Senate and strengthen its capacity to block the administration's healthcare initiative -- and could derail the Democrats' 2010 legislative agenda, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Although a victory by Brown would be considered an upset, Democrats say they may have taken for granted a win by their candidate, state Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Post said.
"We believe at the end of the day the attorney general is going to win the race, but we're not going to take our foot off the gas," said Eric Schultz, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Eric Fehrnstrom, a top adviser to Brown, said the race is tight but Brown "still has to be considered the underdog."
"But clearly there's panic setting in on the other side, and they're jumping in with both feet," Fehrnstrom said.
Polls have delivered inconsistent results. The Boston Globe put Coakley's lead at 15 percentage points Sunday but two automated polls showed a far closer contest, with one giving Coakley a nine-point advantage and another showing a virtual dead heat, the Post said.