January 15th, 2010
02:33 PM ET
4 years ago

GOP pulling for Massachusetts Senate upset

(CNN) – Republicans may be on the verge of pulling off what was, until now, politically unthinkable: a GOP win in the race to fill longtime liberal lion Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat.

Tuesday's special election is now deadlocked, according to a new poll.

President Barack Obama will campaign in Massachusetts Sunday to try to help save the seat for the Democrats, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

A GOP victory in the overwhelmingly Democratic state could give Senate Republicans enough votes to block Obama's health care plan. It could also shatter assumptions about the competitiveness of politics in the progressive northeast.

No Republican has a won a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts since 1972.


The state's entire congressional delegation is Democratic. Obama crushed Sen. John McCain in Massachusetts last year, beating the GOP nominee by 26 points. Kennedy - an advocate for liberal health care reform throughout his career - held his seat for over 46 years. His brother, President John F. Kennedy, held it for another eight.

A Suffolk University/7 News poll released Thursday night, however, indicates that 50 percent of likely voters now back GOP state Sen. Scott Brown.

Only 46 percent support Democratic nominee Martha Coakley, the state attorney general.

Three percent of people questioned back Joseph Kennedy, a third party candidate who is not related to the late senator.

Brown's 4-point lead is barely within the survey's sampling error.

"It's a massive change in the political landscape," said David Paleologos, director of Suffolk's Political Research Center.

A Boston Globe poll released last weekend indicated Coakley had a 15-point lead over Brown, but other recent surveys, including several partisan polls, suggested the race was much closer.

Thursday afternoon two well-respected non-partisan national political analysts, Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg, rated the race a tossup.

According to the Suffolk University survey, Brown is grabbing 65 percent of independent voters, with just three in 10 pulling for Coakley. And 17 percent of Democrats questioned say they're supporting Brown.

If Brown pulls an upset and defeats Coakley, the Democrats will lose their 60-seat filibuster-proof coalition in the Senate. The shift could severely threaten the party's priorities on health care and a range of other
issues. Brown has promised to vote against the health care bill if elected.

Kennedy was 77 years old when he died of brain cancer last August. Democrat Paul Kirk, a long-time adviser and friend to Kennedy, is serving as his interim replacement.

Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin, a Democrat, said this week that certifying Tuesday's election results could take more than two weeks - potentially enough time to allow congressional Democrats time to pass a final health care bill before Brown is seated.

Republicans blasted the timetable, accusing Democrats of trying to stifle the will of the voters.

The Suffolk poll indicates that 51 percent of voters oppose the health care reform legislation, with more than six in 10 saying they believe the government can't afford to pay for it.

The Suffolk survey was conducted Monday through Wednesday, with 500 people who said they are likely to vote in the January 19 special election questioned by telephone.

The poll's sampling error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. Both campaigns have raised large sums of cash in the past week and combined have spent well over a $1 million on television commercials. National party organizations as well as independent groups have also flooded the airwaves in the typically politically uncompetitive Massachusetts.

Aside from Obama, two well-known out-of-state surrogates are now teaming up with the candidates. Former President Bill Clinton is holding rallies in Boston and Worcester for Coakley on Friday, while former New York City mayor and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani teams up with Brown.

On Thursday, however, Obama put out an e-mail and Web video in support of Coakley. The e-mail was sent to the Massachusetts distribution list of Organizing for America, the president's political arm at the Democratic National Committee.

"I am supporting Martha Coakley. As your attorney general, she's taken on Wall Street schemes, insurance company abuses, and big polluters," Obama says in the e-mail. "She'll be your voice, and my ally. And she needs your help."

Vicki Kennedy, the late senator's widow, also is making a pitch for Coakley in a new television campaign commercial that started airing Friday.

–CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report


Filed under: GOP • Massachusetts • Senate Race
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. ICARE

    elephants = in love with scrooges = nothing for the people = we have seen in for the past 8 years.....=why do u WANT to repeat the same mistake?

    Bottomline, dont be stupid and put elephants back!! They aint going to change.

    January 15, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Ms. M

    Democrates in Massachusetts, this is too important of an election for you to stay home. On behalf of all Dems throughout this country, please go vote and please vote Democrate!! Thank you!!!

    January 15, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. short-changed

    It is becoming ever more obvious to many Americans that there is a far greater evil than Republican control – and that is the Democrats!

    January 15, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. bigdoglv

    The Dems had a chance to really change the way our government has worked, or not worked, for decades. They threw their chances away with the same arogance their opposition used that put them in power. At least I won't have to hear the "We on the election" BS anymore.

    January 15, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  5. Patrick

    What the Hell are people in MA thinking????

    Considering a Republican hack who will block Health Care, who will block a sensible agenda, who will do nothing but the whim of DeMint, Gringrich, Palin, Limbaugh, and the like.

    What are you thinking?

    Wake up get motivated to vote for Coakley!!!!!!!

    I'm in IL and can see the disaster that you are closely bringing to America by voting for Brown

    Please wake up!!!

    January 15, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. Eleanor

    Massachussett's residents will be idiots, if they elect a Republican...IDIOTS!

    January 15, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. Beasley

    "Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin, a Democrat, said this week that certifying Tuesday's election results could take more than two weeks."

    And the winner will be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yes, we know. We've seen this before somewhere.

    Let the will of the people be thwarted by the ruling political elite.

    January 15, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. Joe the Comment Leaver

    It astonishes me that anyone could vote for a Republican when Republicans are all about putting profits before people. They have already gutted healthcare reform, and are apparently pouring all kinds of resources into duping the people of Massachusetts into voting against their own interests so they can scuttle even this pathetic compromise version of "healthcare reform."

    Well, I guess anyone gullible enough to vote Republican deserves what they get. Too bad the rest of us have to suffer with you.

    January 15, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. Pat

    Says a lot...either people don't want the health care, or just tired of the status quo. It is time to get rid of elected officials that serve lobbyists, PAC, unions and their party, not the people that elected them. This is true for both parties. Hope Brown wins...but I bet the Mass will not certify the results till after the health care vote in congress. That is sad, they have manipulated the system time and time again for their advantage. That is self serving, not people serving.

    January 15, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. Fair is Fair

    Momentum... it's momentum.

    It's very difficult to stop a speeding train. That train is Scott Brown. Obama showing up here is only going to help Scott Brown.

    Thanks, Obama!

    January 15, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Wmscot

    What a bunch of crap ! These idiots messed around so long that they kill the only good thing going with health care. Now a bunch of Tea Baggers have gotten to the folks of Massachusetts and we will have nothing but a dead congress for the next three years. I have a feeling that is just what the ( payolla congress ) wanted so the insurance and drug companies win !

    January 15, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Dan

    Finally, a real (rather than a fake Chicagoesque) change!!!!

    January 15, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. Penn

    The Big O is going to MA to help Coakley? Good – he was such a huge help in NJ & VA governor's races-for the Republicans. I don't want the taxpayers to foot another dime for this radical, lying president to travel. How many times during his campaign did he say Health Care would be on CSPAN, full transparency, blah, blah blah. He has proven himself to be nothing but a liar so I hope he does try to "help' Coakley.
    People are on to this corrupt thug.

    January 15, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. Right Leaning Independent

    Me too!!! Remember what happened when Obama went to New Jersey and Copenhagen(twice) to rally support?? I can only hope that he has the same results in Mass.... Go Brown Go!!!!

    January 15, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. Michael

    Here in Massachusetts, the GOP is pouring it on with all kinds of out-state resources - something we have seldom seen. Third party groups such as the Teabaggers and some shadowy outside special interests are taking out a tidal wave of ads, while GOP party operatives are clogging the discussion boards and forums with obvious spam. They're being ridiculed for it, but the GOP smells blood here.

    January 15, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. gt

    who would of thunk it... even a close race,,,my oh my ,, how times change....

    January 15, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. Barbara

    Too bad Vickie Kennedy didn't run, although I don't blame her for not wanting to. There's no enthusiasm for Coakley. I hope Teddy can't see this.

    January 15, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Paul

    The way Fox News has been unethically campaigning for this GOP candidate in recent weeks, I am not surprised. If they win this seat, they will prevent Obama and the dems from doing any good work, such as much needed health care reform. Conservatives have proven time and again that they don't care about Americans. Conservatives only care about white, Christian conservatives.

    January 15, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. Seaweeder

    It certainly seems like the Republicans have the initiative right now in the state. It does speak more to outside influences than the quality of the candidate, who is essentially a GOP rubber stamp with nice hair. He's been wavering all over the place on the issues, and stumbling away from one embarrassing admission after another.) Male centerfold, daughter on American Idol, exaggerating military service, "forgetting" how he voted on incriminating issues in the legislature. It goes on and on. That said, he's pulling even with the Democrat Coakley because of all the money and effort being focused on the race from outside.

    January 15, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. Kim Hewson

    With Obama and Bill Clinton in support, Brown should win walking away!

    January 15, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  21. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Will the republicans keep Steele if they pull an upset?

    January 15, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  22. mark

    time to stop obama's reign of terror, let the people speak!

    January 15, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. JMikey54

    Please do not let the republicans win this senate seat. We need health care reform so bad. Every democrat in Massachusetts needs to get out and vote for Coakley.

    January 15, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  24. Mark L.

    Hey Massachusetts !! WAKE UP !! Do NOT Vote for Scott Brown, unless you prefer supporting the GREEDY, 'FAT-CATS' on Wall Street. Cast Your Vote for Martha Coakley – ALL THE WAY !! Remember – The Democrats are 'Of the People, By the People and For the People' of the USA, while the GOP is solely 'Of the Wall St. Fat-Cats & Lobbyists, By the Wall St. Fat-Cats & Lobbyists and For the Wall St. Fat-Cats & Lobbyists'...

    January 15, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  25. American Is Not #1 Anymore

    The Only Thing Dumber Than The U.S Goverment Is The American People.

    January 15, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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