Case Spills Light on Ted Kennedy

Article excerpt

CHANCES are that by the time Sen. Edward Kennedy comes up for reelection in 1994, his nephew's Palm Beach rape trial will have become a vague memory in the public's mind.

But that hasn't dampened the media's enthusiasm for speculation about this episode's impact on a political career that has spanned 29 years and made Senator Kennedy one of the most powerful legislators on Capitol Hill.

There is the oft-cited Boston Herald poll of Aug. 1 that pitted Kennedy against Massachusetts' Republican Gov. William Weld in a hypothetical race and showed him losing by 55 to 32 percent. And there are the numerous liberal Boston columnists and Boston Globe editorials that have suggested it may be time for Kennedy to reassess his future.

But Kennedy supporters aren't worried. Michael Goldman, a Massachusetts Democratic consultant who has worked for another Kennedy nephew, Rep. Joseph Kennedy II, says his polling data indicate that whenever the trial fades from the news, the senator's ratings rebound.

More important Mr. Goldman says, is how voters vote. "They ask themselves, 'Does he care about people like me? …