January 15th, 2010
02:33 PM ET
8 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. Peter s

    A loss in Massachussettes will be a total embarrassement for the Democrates! and it will energize the GOP more than ever before!.

    January 15, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Nick

    White House said they don't watch the poll. Why Obama worries about the poll in Massachussetts and campain there on Sunday.

    January 15, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. independent turning republican

    The democratic power that be are trying to pass the bill before the results of the election are counted. If the bill was so good, why the need for corruption, bribes, secrecy,....

    Call your rep today!

    January 15, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. catmomtx

    What is so sad is that people only seem to want this so he can be the one to defeat the health care bill. What does that say about Republicans.

    January 15, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. JP

    What happens if President Obama campaigns, and Martha Coakley still loses big time?

    January 15, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Dan

    These Republicans have got to go. Come on people, lets get out there and get these pigs out of politics!!!

    January 15, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Four and The Door

    A GOP victory in the overwhelmingly Democratic state could give Senate Republicans enough votes to block Obama's health care plan.
    Go Massachusetts Republicans! Save America from this stinky ugly mess that started out as health care reform! Get out and vote! Yeah!

    January 15, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. Phil

    This will be very interesting...a possible end to dirty Kennedy influenced politics in Massachusetts? It may be the only saving grace to the country until the elections at the end of the year.

    January 15, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Bubble of Sanity

    The Democrats will win the seat. The dirty machine that stole the election for Al Franken, that trumped up charges on Ted Stevens (which were dropped after the election), that has stolen at least five seats for the Senate in the last five years - this machine will move into Massachusetts. Cemeteries will vote, living people will vote multiple times, and ballots will be lost.

    The majority of people in Massachusetts now favor Scott Brown. However, Martha Coakley will "win" in a landslide. And the media will move on without comment.

    January 15, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. GoBrownGo

    Hope he wins so that he might can stop this travesty that pelosi and reid are trying to force upon us. Unfair taxation that is not equal " look at the union sell out", the sellout of the people of louisiana( who will remember this) by mary landrieu and the sellout of the people of nebraska(who will also remember ) Seems the whole focus of this congress ( same as usual ) is to tax the people who work and give it to the ones who choose to live off the government teat. I guess this is what they call redistributing the wealth. Maybe we should call the leaders in washington "Robin Hood" or maybe more appropiately Robbin Hood.

    January 15, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Bubble of Sanity

    Highly indicative of how little the current party in power thinks of the value of human life is blatantly shown by this campaigning move. Bill Clinton is our envoy to Haiti, and at this moment, he has other priorities that should supersede a senatorial election.

    It is hard to fathom that a man, trusted with care for our relationship with Haiti, is in Massachusetts right now.

    January 15, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Paul in Arizona

    I've got to think that even Kennedy would not want a flawed health care bill. Always a champion of the people, he'd want a fair bill that would not slash seniors' Medicare benefits. There are so many problems with this bill, it needs to be completely redone. Congress is trying desperately to shove this version down our throats as soon as possible. I pray Brown will win and be a voice of reason where health care is concerned.

    January 15, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. whybs on twitter

    No worries!

    Coakley will win!

    Ted Kennedy has done so much for our country & MA folks are not stupid!

    Just watch!

    January 15, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. Sea.gem

    Sure hope he campaigns liek he did for the Olympics and in Copnehagen...the people are repulsed by his lies...

    January 15, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Joe

    This guy is young, fit, handsome...new blood for the GOP. Problem is, he is probably a wolf in sheep's clothing and would be bad news for MA. But people are fed up, and he is in the right place at the right time. Looks like a winner.

    January 15, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. we're not stupid...

    The republicans don't get rewarded for being obstructionists, and the good guys will win on the 19th.

    This is all just a figment of the media's imagination.

    January 15, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. jules sand-perkins



    January 15, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. manny

    Stunning – 51% of the voters in Kennedyland oppose the bill.

    I actually hope the Dems pass it. It will be the stake in the heart of the Dem party.

    January 15, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. j

    I hope the people of Massachusetts have more sense than that.

    January 15, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  20. Ancient Texan

    The Dems refuse to believe that the people are fed up with this wild spending-in- your-face Democrat controlled Congress and Senate. The fact that they not only ignore the voters wishes, but cram their bilge down our throats, while calling us vile names. Schumer sure didn't help his favorite in the Massachusetts race. I'm glad.

    January 15, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  21. jules sand-perkins

    Democrats have to know that this race's being even close is a major 2010 victory for the Republicans and a reaction against President Obama's policies.
    Is anybody surprised that the we-won-get-over-it crowd isn't excited about this year's elections?

    January 15, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  22. harold

    Whats the Republican gonna do for the people of the USA.?... Balance the Budget like the republicans last did for us in 1930?

    January 15, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  23. from the middle

    This is perplexing! Why would anyone want to give the GOP another chance?

    January 15, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  24. Independent

    Come on people in Mass. don't allow Brown the set that Kennedy served in for so many years....get out and vote for COAKLEY..Please

    January 15, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  25. John

    Mass. will be the nation's hero if they elect the GOP candidate and stop this insane healthcare bill in its present form. Let's make the politicians keep their promise of transparency and stop the bribes for votes. It's you and I who will subsidize Ben Nelson's state and other backroom giveaways if the bribes are adopted. I voted for Obama, but am I angry and disappointed by unkept promises. Show your stuff, Mass!

    January 15, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
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