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. EdSan

    I can see the Dems are besides themselves here. Naturally they are incredulous when facing a possible defeat in MA off all places. However, they seem incapable of realizing why this is happening and that they nominated the wrong person to head their party and go on to the Presidency.

    Republicans are the party of No and the party of Hatred? Do you think that this superficial level of thinking is a winning strategy. If you Democrats are so intelligent, why do you think that the Daily Show is a news program?

    January 15, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. The Right Worships at the Altar of Ignorance

    What this is showing is four things:

    1: The Right has seen some success in their lie-spreading, fear-mongering campaign against the President and his policies

    2: Coaklley has run an very bad campaign; being complacent when she should have been campainging her butt off!

    3: Many (too many) Americans do not have the ability to see the big picture when it comes to this President's policies. Along with that, they do not have the ability to remember the past so that the same mistakes do not happen again.

    4: Racism is still alive and well in America

    That being said, the votes haven't been cast yet. Republcans, I would caution, don't count your chickens before they are hatched. Democrats, I would caution, get out there and VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS so we don't lose the precious little ground we've gained!

    January 15, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. Bill K NY

    Now we just have to wait for those extra ballots to be found in car trunks just like in Minnesota.

    January 15, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. Future Expat

    I'm going to Europe, where the gov't takes care of my every need, unlike here in the US where the stupid GOP keeps telling me I have to take care of myself. I can't wait until I get to stand in lines with my hand out.

    January 15, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. Tracy

    This country is supposed to have checks and balances. Neither party should control both houses and the executive branch. It will be a good thing if Brown wins. It will send a message to the democrats to start paying attention to their constituents instead of ramming this unpopular health care bill down our throats. People don't want it. We need jobs and food on the table. Wake up democrats, you blew it!
    Good luck, Mr. Brown. You have my vote!

    January 15, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Concerned American WORKER

    I would like everyone who is in favor of this health care garbage making its way into our pockets who has a job and has employer paid insurance to ask their human resources personnel what this will do to their insurance. I have had numerous discussions with my HR department and they insist we will loose coverage or each individual employee will have to pay for their own insurance. Right now my company pays 85% of the cost. I can afford the other 15% and it is terrific insurance. But I can not afford paying more. Paying more for insurance. Paying more in taxes, just so those people that want a free ride can continue to do nothing.
    VOTE SCOTT BROWN.

    January 15, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Tea Partiers unite......

    out with Pelosi...out with Reid.....out with Obamacare and socialism.....
    back to the Constitution....back to the wisdom of our forefathers....down with socialism......Scott Brown is leading the way........there is a firestorm brewing and Americans want their government back.....no bribes behind closed doors...we've had it....

    January 15, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. Cpolcari

    Just heard Obama is coming to Massachusetts! Now we know the Dems are scared!!!! This is great for Brown, because Obama and Obamacare is the reason the majority of us Independents are voting for Scott Brown...It's amazing, they just don't get it! When the majority of the people of Ma. are not in favor of the Democrat's Health Care Bill, why would we elect a woman who going to go to Washington to be another Senator who isn't listening to the people, and going to rubber stamp everything this administration put in front of her!!! WAKE UP!

    January 15, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. jr

    I still support Obama...I don't support Reid and Pelosi.

    January 15, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. CW

    What people have to remember, is the politics are local. I'm a Dem, and I know healthcare reform is important, etc, but I have to say that the current plan is a far cry from anything Ted Kennedy ever put forward. Personally, I would rather have what we've had in the past then go forward with the current plan which has been completely mangled by the Dems in the House and Senate. If this is what it takes, then so be it. I still support Obama, but am dissapointed in his lack of aggressiveness in really "pushing" health care through. Let's remember, Ted Kennedy was for Medicare for all; this current plan has no resemblence to that whatsoever.

    I have to wonder though...given the political landscape of the Republican party, how long will Brown last. Mass. is a pretty democratic/progressive place, so i would think Brown will have to play a "moderate" roll, which as we all know the Republicans can't stand....I'm sure they'll run some tea bag nut job against him the next time around and the seat will go back to the Dems.

    January 15, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. Otis

    If Scott Brown, a Republican, wins in Massachusetts, it will be the end of Democratic reign in 2011. Plain and simple.

    January 15, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. neil

    Someone should tell John Kerry he's next to lose his seat..

    January 15, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Jimmy James

    For the first time in my life my vote will actually count and affect the nation. Usually in Mass it's always a sure thin g a democrat will win and have no affect. Presidential elections always go to a democrat so we are never in play. I am in the IBEW and I don't know any coworkers ( out of 102 at my location) voting for Coakley. Normally out of 102 maybe 20 would vote against a democrat. This is a clear sign that Pelosi, Ried and Obama have done worse than Bush in 1 year. Bush was a terrible president but he didn't lose support that quick. This will set the Democrats gains back another decade. 2010 is going to be a landslide. I thought maybe in the high 20's for losses in the house for dems. I actually see them losing the majority now. Great Job Liberals. You turned your own base against you with your arrogance and complete lack of interest what the country thinks. I guess Mass is having another Tea Party.

    January 15, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. Cyberpimp29

    Hmm, I wonder why CNN doesnt have this on its main page. Yesterday their headline stated that Coakley has a 15 point lead. Now that she is losing, they attempt to bury the story. While not as flagrant as Fox News, their 'preferences' are obvious. It is VERY BIG news that the Dems are on the verge of losing the fillibuster proof senate, but CNN will do all they can to keep the story 'hidden'. Its sad.

    January 15, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. Hope A. Dope

    Now THIS is change we can believe in!

    I hope the leftists in this country now recognize that people even in states like Mass. have had enough. We need some balance in the political landscape and a victory for Brown will provide just that.

    January 15, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. bostonbruinsfan

    The comments section on the Boston Globe web site (boston.com) on the Senate race is being "ballot stuffed" by out of state repubs hired to try to sway folks to vote for Brown by thinking that everyone is for him. Not gonna work.

    January 15, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. kacapa

    We gave obama the chance to do the right thing. He screwed us all. He got to the extent of dealing with Nebraska at the extent of Mass citizens; he succumb to unions at the expense of non-unions. It is time to tell the Obama team that citizens of MA are not stupid. Go Brown.

    January 15, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. NoHealthcareReformNow? Kiss 'merica byebye!

    America is heading off a cliff, lead by the weak-brained Fear Machine that is the Republican Party. "Fear is the stongest motivator" and the GOP shape-shifters are masters at exploiting that dominating characteristic of their party (the other being willful ignorance). They're so hysterical with their deluded "socialism" fears and disconnected from the REALITY the U.S.' current miserable state of affairs was CREATED by the losers THEY elected in the 2 previous elections. Whatever. America gets what America deserves at this point. DON'T pass healthcare reform NOW, and watch as our economy becomes totally crippled by it as the Boomer population ages. Haha! Change is coming all right. Just like it came to the Roman Empire.

    January 15, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. Cyberpimp29

    "THOSE WHO SACRIFICE LIBERTY FOR SECURITY DESERVE NIETHER" PREZ BEN FRANKLIN – This is some genius' screen name. President Ben Franklin. And by the way he is a Coakley/Dem supporter. No surprises here :)

    January 15, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. irritated democrat

    Thanks to Obama for not having any guts and leadership qualities regarding health insurance reform, these things are gonna happen.
    Obama just wanst a health care bill to sign, he has NEVER said what he wants in it. What a joke of a guy and a huge disappointment.

    January 15, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. lifelong democrat

    As I've said a two days ago, Scott Brown will win in Massachussetts, endorsement of Vicki Kenney and Joe Kennedy hurt Coakley than help; it would be worsen by Obama going to Massachussetts to campaign for Coakley, it would be New Jersey and Virginia all over again.

    Obama, you've become toxic, voters in MA has low favorable rating about you. Independent voters are going for Brown, 17% of registered are voting for Brown, Republican voters are already locked up voting for Brown.

    The people of MA will save USA on Tuesday, just remember Paul Revere, remember BOSTON TEA PARTY.

    January 15, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Independent for Scott Brown!!!

    Registered Independent for Scott Brown!!! Now this is the definition of change!

    January 15, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. richrico

    STOP for a moment........ REFLECT on what the Dems have done this past year......... Need I say more! ....... We need REAL CHANGE! .... VOTE BROWN!

    January 15, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Jeff

    The best thing that can happen to Obama will be for the Republicans to take over congress.

    Of course, it'll screw over all the rest of us, who will then have to deal with a government that's got two right feet and no direction (and by "right" I don't mean "correct"), but it'll basically guarantee Obama gets re-elected, because the people will have somebody else to blame for screwing everything up.

    January 15, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. carlos

    brown said he will hire Joe the Plumber as his chief of staff and palin as the communications spokesman.....there you go repugnants, great beginning for PLAYGIRL Brown and his nude expose.

    LIBERALS rise above the devil CONServatives and satanic Pat Robertsons......the cancer of our society

    January 15, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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