• This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," January 16, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," a showdown in Massachusetts that could have big implications for the Democratic agenda and the mid-term elections ahead.

    And Obama's new bank tax. The president tries to get out ahead of renewed anger over big bonuses. But will the move end up costing you?

    The NFL takes its game to the Supreme Court. Owners and players square off in a case that could reshape professional football.

    Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    The 2010 political season kicked into very high gear this week. And the bluest of blue states, Massachusetts, where the race to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy has turned from assure thing for Democrat Martha Coakley to a toss up, with Republican challenger Scott Brown pulling ahead in a Suffolk University poll released late this week. A Brown win would be a crushing defeat for President Obama and Democrats, who would lose their 60-seat majority in the Senate as well as a crucial health care vote.

    Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; and editorial board members, Dorothy Rabinowitz and Jason Riley.

    So, Dan, some of the handicappers are moving this from sure thing to toss-up in a state that Barack Obama carried by 26 points. What's behind the Scott Brown surge?

    DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Well, I think what's mainly behind it, Paul, is the fact that, as we know, the American people, at the moment, are not happy campers. And the last time I looked, Massachusetts was part of America, blue though it may be. OK?


    There is a lot to point to what's going on here. Let's start. In some ways it reminds me of what happened in New Jersey, a very blue state, just elected a Republican governor. Those people were really disaffected. Duvall Patrick, the Democratic governor of Massachusetts, has approval ratings in the low 20s. The National Journal issued a poll late this week which said 50 percent of the respondents said they would definitely or probably vote against Barack Obama if he were running again. Now, we know that what has happened here is Obama has lost the Independent vote that elected him president.

    Let's look at the numbers in Massachusetts. Yes, it's a blue state. Forty-three percent is Democratic. Forth-four percent of the people in the Massachusetts exit poll in 2008, the presidential election...


    HENNINGER: ... were self identified as Independent. Those people are trending strongly for Scott Brown. I think that is what is behind the surge.

    GIGOT: So this — so nationalizing this race is...

    JASON RILEY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: That is what Brown has done a good job of doing is nationalizing it.


    RILEY: It's not just about Massachusetts. It's become about President Obama and Democrats controlling all of the levers of power.

    GIGOT: Check and balance.

    RILEY: And this very liberal agenda the Democrats are pursuing and Brown is saying, yes, I can be a check on that.