January 15th, 2010
11:50 AM ET
5 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. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Pay attention, Democrats: Americans do not want the insanely expensive healthcare entitlement bill to become law.

    The one good result of last year's election that gave Democrats control of both the White House and Congress is that it gave Americans the opportunity to find out exactly how scary the far-Left is. They're an arrogant lot, convinced that ordinary people are too dumb to manage their own lives. They're perfectly prepared to ignore what the citizens of this country want and to impose on us what they, in their vastly superior judgement, think will be "good for us" whether we want it or not–their determination to impose on us a health care entitlement system a majority of us don't want demonstrates that.

    Fundamentally, Democrats are thoroughly undemocratic. Fundamentally, they're perfectly prepared to impose a tyranny of "it's for their own good" on people they believe to be incapable of deciding for themselves what is for their own good.

    January 15, 2010 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  2. Adam

    Once Brown is elected expect a few weeks of recounts, then a few more weeks before he's sworn in... Dems need some more time to ram this turd of a health bill through.

    January 15, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. Sniffit

    The only "change" we'll get if Brown is elected is the slowly continuing decline of our economy and impending demise of our society while absolutely NOTHING gets done for at least the next 3 years. The guy is nothing but a GOP ideologue puppet. Congressional gridlock here we come...

    January 15, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  4. m jeff

    What a disaster poll, it's a disgrace.

    January 15, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  5. Marshall

    That is amazing since she had a double digit lead yesterday. Come on CNN get it right!

    January 15, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  6. Tony in Maine

    It's the tiny-brained sending a dumbogram.

    They think my voting Republican it's only going to rattle cages, not bring the whole Democratic agenda crashing down. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

    January 15, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  7. Frank Jones

    People can only take so much of Obama's America. They had to snap eventually.

    January 15, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. Tom in FL

    If Brown wins, the government will be paralyzed, which is what the Republicans want. How did we get to the point where one political party is determined to block everything the other party does? Do they care about anything but their stupid partisan fights?

    January 15, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. unconstitutional

    I see you have a little blip regarding the Unions getting a deal with Obama on healthcare. This is a big deal. I pay just as much if not more than union workers for my healthcare...but, THEY get the tax break just to endorse the plan. Would that not be considered bribary. This stinks! Why will you not tell the entire story and are you afraid to let the people comment? THIS IS NEWS!! Quit wasting space on Sarah Palin!

    January 15, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  10. jim fixit

    Tea Party members...you need to vote republican. Your time will come but right now, the independent vote will determine if the US Senate and Obama will continue to rule our nation. Allowing that to happen is against everything the Tea Party stands for. Your candidate will not win in any case and as a nation, we need a republican win more than we need to 'make a statement'. Take one for the team ...vote republican this time around.

    January 15, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  11. Tom C in NY

    If Coakly loses in a race that she should have never lost, this needs to be a wakeup call to Dems to get their act together. And the people of MA will live to regret their decision, just as they did when Mittens Romney became their governor

    January 15, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. T'SAH from Virginia

    This is a SHAME!!! The state where Kennedy was part of and the Health Care Reform he championed so much is going down the DRAIN!!!! If Coakley lose, this would be devastating.

    If BROWN wins with the STRONG message he is stating – VOTE NO FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM – then 2010 election would be DIM for the Democrats also.

    Health Care would not get passed and President Obama would get an A+ for trying.... The millions of people without health care will still be without health care.

    NOTHING would be accomplished for President Obama in the first four years. If I was President Obama, I would END both WARS – bring out boys home and NOT run in 2012!!! Leave HEALTH CARE reform on the NEXT President and see how far he/she would get!!! He is the FIRST President to get as far as he did with the reform!!!

    January 15, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. Bob

    I like how when the democrats are ahead by even a point, that is all that is mentioned; but when the republicans are ahead, he makes sure to note that the "lead is within the survey's sampling error." That's not slanted and shady at all.

    January 15, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  14. MJ

    Finally – Massachusetts is standing up to all the absurdity going on in Washington! All the money shoved her way and the Obama ads are being seen as just another bribe! WTG Massachusetts!

    January 15, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. mjm

    Surged dramatically ahead....is how they put it. 50% to 46%.

    As opposed to CNN's "too close to call.."

    Of course there are always the absentee ballots (wink, wink) that ALWAYS seem to go the Democrats way depending on how many votes they need to win...just ask Franken.

    January 15, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  16. Librarian

    Respect Ted Kennedy's memory. Vote for a democrat, not a tea bagger.

    January 15, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. annie against biased news

    Even if Brown doesn't win this race is close enough that it should wake-up some dems. Of course, now obama has cut a deal with the unions I'm sure the unions will be in MA trying to strong arm this election and since this administration has let acorn once again steal money from the American taxpayers, acorn is probably already in MA. Oh and don't forget the black panthers that eric holder gave a free pass to.

    January 15, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  18. Right Leaning Independent

    Go Brown Go!!! I hope Mass voters do not elect Coakley – the Sarah Palin of the Democrat party!!!

    January 15, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  19. Massachusetts Conservative

    Great photo, CNN. You must have found those SEIU members who are being paid $50 to hold signs for Coakley for 4 hours at a time. Massachusetts voters are going to shock the world on Tuesday when they elect Scott Brown.

    January 15, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. Chad from Tampa

    Wait a minute, I thought Mass. was the most progressive state in the country? This poll must be wrong.

    January 15, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. Free Thinker

    pray that Scott Brown wins and that democrats and union thugs don't steal this election!!

    January 15, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  22. Mike

    If Brown wins it would be the perfect irony. That is something we all love in America.

    January 15, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  23. Rick

    So, we have this "better that 20 guilty go free than one innocent is jailed" so-called philosophy, but 46% of people will vote for a person who deliberately kept an innocent man jailed to further her political career. Good job, fools!

    January 15, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    It would be nice if CNN would report the total amount from both parties spent from special interests in efforts to influence this election? I feel bad for the people no matter who wins they lose, these candidates will be representing only the special interest groups who funded their election, forget about representing the people anymore. Our Government is bought and pay for by the Special interest groups, PACs, Unions, Wall Street, Banking, Global Corporations are all contributing billions to election funds that undermine the people's representation.

    January 15, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  25. Ron in California

    Keep the drama alive....elect a republican.

    January 15, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
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