The Massachusetts special election to fill Ted Kennedy's Senate seat is a lot closer than many political watchers expected. Democrat Martha Coakley still enjoys a comfortable lead of 6.4% over Republican Scott Brown, according to the latest Pollster average, but that gap has been closing steadily for weeks. (Nate Silver is calling the race a "toss-up.") The Atlantic Wire wondered if a Republican could really win Massachusetts and on Tuesday we explored why the race had become so close. Since then, a handful of embarrassing stories has made Coakley's campaign look less than skilled. Opinion makers on the right and the left are starting to wonder -- could Coakley, a Democrat in a deep blue state, manage to lose this race?

  • Third-Party Candidate Could Tip It The New York Times's Michael Cooper wonders if the obscure Tea Party candidate might attract Democratic votes due to his name: Joe Kennedy (no relation to Ted). "In most elections, a politician calling himself the Tea Party candidate would cheer Democrats, raising hopes that he would siphon votes from Republicans by attracting some of the disaffected anti-Washington, anti-Obama electorate," he writes. "Democrats here are concerned that some uninformed voters might confuse him for a member of the better-known, well-loved Kennedy clan, which he is not." The candidate Kennedy wants to end the war in Afghanistan and shutter the Department of Education.
  • Tea Partiers Wising Up The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder explains that the tea party movement, which carries significant grassroots support and nationwide donors, have adopted the prudent strategy of supporting Brown even though many of his policies are more moderate than the movement would like. "Many liberal activists tend to characterize the Tea Party movement as a bunch of knuckle-dragging no-nothings with a penchant for ideological purity," he writes. "[T]his robotic monolith is showing signs of sentience. Democrats might want to notice..."
  • Timing Perfect For GOP FiveThirtyEight's Tom Schaller says the circumstances are difficult for any Democrat. "If lower turnouts in midyear cycles tend to help Republicans, turnout during a special election on a (cold?) January day could be even worse and, thus, less likely to favor Coakley," he writes. Schaller also explains that, with Democrats controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, there's not much to mobilize Democratic voters, whereas Republicans eager to take back Washington have much to get them out the door.
  • Coakley Just Isn't Trying Local Massachusetts Democratic blogger Ernie Boch channels the frustration of many fellow Mass Dems. "WTF are you guys doing over there?" he asks the campaign. "Get out there. Where are you? You were given the ball by many people and you are not even trying. This is not about you. Do you have any idea how pissed people are at you. Get your [self] out there and start talking to people about the difference between you and Scott Brown. Non stop."
  • Brown A Better Fundraiser National Review's Jim Geraghty gasps "wow" at Scott Brown's fundraising streak, citing his ability to tap the nationwide conservative grassroots. "[I]t shows the GOP grassroots are now fully engaged, and can strengthen any campaign that captures their attention and enthusiasm," he writes.

Beyond that, I can't help but notice that Coakley has a bad habit of making statements that are wildly, horrifically inaccurate and all-too-easily disproven. For example, today she said, "I've never taken this race for granted. I've worked hard every day."

Ma'am, you took a six-day vacation during this campaign. It was the holidays, and you're entitled to do so, but you can't say that you've been working hard every day.