January 15th, 2010
11:50 AM ET
4 years ago

Poll: Too close to call in Massachusetts senate race

Tuesday's special senate election in Massachusetts between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown is deadlocked, according to a new poll.
Tuesday's special senate election in Massachusetts between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown is deadlocked, according to a new poll.

(CNN) –  Tuesday's special senate election in Massachusetts between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown is deadlocked, according to a new poll.

The race is a battle to fill out the final three years of the term of the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, but also at stake is the Democrat's supermajority in the Senate, and possibly the fate of the party's and President Barack Obama's drive for health care reform.

A Suffolk University/7 News poll released Thursday night indicates that 50 percent of likely votes back Brown, a state senator, with 46 percent supporting Coakley, the Massachusetts attorney general. Brown's 4 point lead is within the survey's sampling error. Three percent of people questioned back Joseph Kennedy, a third party candidate who is not related to the late senator.

"It's a massive change in the political landscape," says 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 toss up.

According to the Suffolk University survey, Brown is grabbing 65 percent of independent voters, with just 3 in 10 pulling for Coakley. And 17 percent of Democrats questioned say they're supporting Brown.

Democrats dominate most elections in Massachusetts, and no Bay State Republican has won an election to the U.S.Senate since 1972. But If Brown pulls an upset and defeats Coakley, the Democrats will lose their 60 seat filibuster-proof coalition in the Senate, which could severely threaten the party's chances of passing a health care reform bill in Congress and handing it to President Barack Obama to sign into law. Brown says he would vote against the bill. Health care reform was an issue that the late Sen. Kennedy championed.

Health care reform was an issue that the late Sen. Kennedy championed. The 77-year-old senator died of brain cancer in August. Democrat Paul Kirk, a long time adviser and friend to Kennedy, is serving as his interim replacement and does support the health care bill. The Massachusetts' Democratic secretary of state said this week that certifying Tuesday's election results could take more than two weeks, which could give Congressional Democrats time to pass a health care bill. Republicans are blasting any such delay.

The poll indicates that 51 percent of voters oppose the health care reform legislation, with more than 6 in 10 saying they believe the government can't afford to pay for it.

The Suffolk University survey was conducted Monday through Wednesday, with 500 people 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 Massachusetts.

Friday two well known out of state surrogates are teaming up with the candidates. Former President Bill Clinton holds rallies in Boston and Worcester for Coakley and former New York City Mayor and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani teams up with Brown.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Martha Coakley • Scott Brown • Uncategorized
soundoff (285 Responses)
  1. Dar

    2010/2012 Change is coming

    January 15, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  2. Scott L

    Healthcare is now DEAD. Good. Democrats watching this race will take note and change their tune to save their skin. Coakley should have been a 20 point favorite but it is deadlocked. Even if Brown loses this is a massive wake up call for ALL Democratic leaders that their message is garbage. They will probably start to distance themselves from Obama too. Reid, Pelosi and Obama have destroyed the Democratic party. If you can call it that anymore. My guess is Democrats who don't like Coakley but hate Brown will vote 3rd party thereby taking votes away from Coakley because they cannot bring themselves to vote Republican.

    Brown FOR THE PEOPLE OF MASS!

    January 15, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  3. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Maybe Rudy and Scott could do a nude photo op for the Boston Globe.

    January 15, 2010 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  4. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    That the party of hate has made this a close race is mind boggling.

    January 15, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  5. Jimmy James

    If Coakley was at 50% and Brown at 46% this would have said "Coakley Winning". This is the wake up call for Obama. Maybe now he will go back to the center like he campaigned as and a lot of independents voted for him as.

    January 15, 2010 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  6. Dutch the Great

    As was proven in the Presidential election, polls mean NOTHING.

    January 15, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  7. DAVE

    We as a country need Brown in there to give the senate checks and balances again. No party should have a super majority.

    January 15, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  8. Mr Joshua

    First Virginia and New Jersey if Mass goes Republican I would be worried if I was Obama. These races are a referendum on him regardless if he chooses to believe it or not.

    January 15, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  9. spinnikerca

    They should keep Giuliani out of it, he only hurts Brown.

    January 15, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  10. ross berg- Buffalo NY

    WOW!!! Guess the "boys" in Wash. better get the health care bill through this weekend in case they lose next Tuesday??

    Although I guess Sen. Ried could postpone swearing in Brown should he win until they've gotten the health care vote done???

    Sure will be interesting!!

    January 15, 2010 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  11. Travis

    I hope the voters of Massachusetts vote Brown in and stop this nightmare health care legistlation. They have already had a taste of socialized medicine under Romney. Not the model for America.

    January 15, 2010 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  12. Scott Brown, a true TeaPartier......

    this is where the Tea Party began and so it's fitting that Scott Brown's election will return us to our roots-back to basics and the Constitution....
    this may be the beginning of the end for Obama socialism which is anathema to our forefathers.......

    Obamacare will be stopped and no further socialist legislation will be passed.....Amen.

    January 15, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  13. seebofubar

    Guess what Democrats...how did you like your 15 minutes. The people of this country are not stupid enough to buy into Obama's destructive ways. He will be out on his ear in 2012...THANK GOD.

    January 15, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  14. James

    Hang on, how come CNN is reporting this poll and ignoring all the other polls take in the last few days showing a relatively comfortable Coakley win?

    January 15, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  15. kc3

    It doesn't smell good for Democrats and the health care legislation..... Trouble is on the way if Democrats lose this seat.... It means they are losing 2010 and 2012.

    January 15, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  16. wake up

    Coakley is embarrassment to democrats. She has the intelligence of a 5th grader...and she's running for Senate!??! how much hubris do these democrats have to throw out awful candidatates like her.

    January 15, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. Larry

    Coakley is in and we all know it

    End of story ...

    January 15, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  18. Armando

    Run Scott Run!!! Free Massachusetts from the shakles of the democratic party machine and save us from having to pay twice for healthcare reform!!

    January 15, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. Nathan,

    This would be a great legacy for the people of Mass to remember Kennedy by. Put someone in there who will try to defeat what Kennedy worked his entire life for, healthcare for all as a right not a privilege. This is why ordinary average Americans never get anywhere in this country. They don't understand that the biggest war in this country is between the haves and the have nots. Put this republican in there and watch as the spread between the top 1% and the rest of us continue to widen. Watch as it continues to get more difficult for your kids to go to college. When will you people wake up for more than just one emotional moment like the one when Obama was elected. In order to reverse the greatest redistribution of wealth in the history of mankind we must not let these republicans get another foothold on government.

    January 15, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  20. gary davis Harbor Oregon proud american

    this is just a republican run opinion poll . give or take crap .. Brown is a looser typical purist party of NO :)

    January 15, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  21. lori

    It is about time that people start waking up. Coakley is a nut left wing lunatic. Why is it that we can not just have real people who actually care about the country and not the party lines. I hope you all send a message on Tuesday and do not vote for Coakley noone should ever have a lock on the state just because they have a d or an r.

    January 15, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  22. aneanderthal

    I do believe that the race is this close is significant in and of itself. Massachusetts may be ready to throw off the yoke of its union dominated politics as represented by the Democrats and the highest taxes in the nation. Hey Obamatrons, only 11 more months until the biggest political collapse in US history. It will be so nice when the lies, thug tactics and robbery of the American taxpayer stops.

    January 15, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  23. jenn, philadelphia

    And what does that tell the democrats about their "prized" health bill? Massachusetts is considering voting for a republican for the first time in 38 years, that's how much they hate this bill.

    January 15, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  24. All the news that is fit to omit

    I am begging Obambi to come and speak on her behalf, so that next Tuesday he can hang his head in shame at yet another loss (See Olympics, NJ, VA, Mass etc, etc).

    Scott Brown for Senate.

    We ALL want reform, but just like Brown says, NOT this reform and the MAJORITY AGREE with US.

    Massachusetts voters of all people AGREE as well – 51 against THIS BILL – 36 for it.

    Don't you SHEEP get it yet?

    Obviously not, but YOU WILL REAL SOON.

    January 15, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  25. jpspec

    Vote for Scott Brown and at the end of his term, only 3 years later, the people of MA can vote him out if dissatisfied. Unfortunately, if he does not win and Obamacare will pass and the people in MA and nation will not be able to simply vote Obamacare out. Obamacare is a huge mistake that we all will pay for and regret for years to come.

    Vote for Scott Brown

    January 15, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
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