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. John L. - NYC

    I hope that Brown pulls this out. In all likelihood, giving the timing, he might not be able to influence the healthcare vote, but he will bring some much needed balance back to this political system. Plus, Coakley is very unsteady and seems to lack confidence, not the qualities I would look for in a leader.

    January 15, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. Carol

    Even of Brown looses, and I pray to God he does not, this should give the Dems reason to fear their decision to support Obama's horrible health care reform at any cost. If the race is the close here those Dems in conservative areas that barely won should see supporting the liberal agenda after promising to vote for the people, not Pelosie or Reid, should reconsider their support of these votes!

    January 15, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. Bedtime for Obonzo

    I've been following this in the Boston Globe (which endorsed Coakley) for a few days now. In the "reader comments" after each new article, comments run about ten to one in favor of Brown. I can't wait until Tuesday!

    January 15, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  4. barbara

    From SC with love for the good peeps of Mass., VOTE BROWN or else WE will ALL be controlled by government in that they will be able to REGULATE every aspect of our lives because they WILL then RELATE it to health care. Why do you think the DEMS are doing EVERYTHING possible to pass this bill? Why are they NOT concerned about jobs? BECAUSE they HAVE to HAVE CONTROL over us ALL and this health care bill does it. VOTE BROWN and he will save us all.

    January 15, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. mike

    this race is not about local politics like it should be but about big
    business influence on the average person who is going to work
    every day to pay his bills at the end if big business wins the average
    person will be forgotten about and world will go round and round
    without them THINK BEFORE YOU VOTE

    January 15, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. Mass. native

    This is not a suprise to the people who live here in Massachusetts. I have lived outside of Boston my whole life. This is a direct response to Obamacare. We have had to live with socialized healthcare in this state for a few years now and I must say it is a disaster. Our state is broke because of this, we are currently paying our state employees with stimulus money, what happens when that money runs out? Most of us don't even get to keep half of our paycheck because it is being forcelbly taken and used to pay for all the people in the inner city and illegals to receive free healthcare. We have the highest tax rate in the country because of this and it is still bankrupting our state. Businesses have left and continue to leave at an alarming rate because of the insane taxes they are forced to pay, to pay for people who do not work to live very nicely for free. It was easy for Kennedy to tax us to death, because he inherited billions of dollars and had no concept of working for a paycheck to support a family. Brown will help us, we are voting for Brown.

    January 15, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. A GREAT REPUBLICAN

    GREAT NEWS !!!!!. Scott Brown lets win one for the America People.

    Lets defeat Obamaism a disaster for AMERICA.

    January 15, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  8. Pete East

    I cannot see Massachusetts voters electing a Republican to the US Senate. I would be pleasantly surprised if they did; but I just can't see it happening. Kudos to all of the voters in Massachusetts who do get out and vote in this and any other election.

    If this race is even within five percentage points the nation wide Congressional races in November should be very interesting indeed.

    January 15, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. dale

    The liberal machine (lying, buying, cheating) forcing a nonipartisan agenda is coming to an end.

    Why will our government not sign up to this healthcare plan? Canada,europe ...etc on on theirs. This is a good enough reson to say no. Now they are cutting deals with special interest unions??? Wth are you people thinking? All must go in 2010 elections (all)

    January 15, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. SCOTT BROWN!

    Why vote for Scott Brown? Because he is the better candidate. He cleaned up at the debate, he's smarter, better informed and will represent the locals better.

    While Brown was shaking hands and getting the word out, the other candidate was in Washington getting political contributions from special interest groups. When interviewed she made fun of how Brown was 'shaking hands at Fenway'. If Coakley is just getting votes to pass the horrible healthcare bill, remember that MA already has a BETTER state system in place that what is being offered by Pelosi.

    Scott Brown rocks.

    January 15, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. John, Brooklyn, NY

    C'mon Massachusetts. Please sent a clear message from the civilized part of the country that you still embrace Teddy's legacy!

    January 15, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  12. mike

    just look at the republicans that care about other people like Rush that
    has said not to help the people in Haiti who are dyingI have not heard of any republican coming out and saying that this man is wrong
    they just walk in lock step with each other do you want to be apart
    of the problem or the solution

    January 15, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  13. Biased

    Go Brown!! I hope you capture the "peoples' seat" on Tuesday.

    January 15, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. Mike Syracuse, NY

    People are mad. They believed the Obama hype, and found out it's all lies. Coakley is the same Democratic machine. the real change is brown. Brown will win, and it will signal a Democratic blood bath in Nov. If MA delays certification of Brown, it should be taken to the Supreme Court.

    January 15, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  15. I can't believe I'm pulling for a Repub!

    I hope Brown pulls this off. This race IS a referendum on how the country if feeling about this tone deaf administratoin. NO, NO, NO to this incomprehenisble Heatlhcare reform. This causes more damage than good. I tell me children all the time, if something is worth doing, it's worth doing right! I also teach my children to live by their principles and do what is right. Caving in to unions and selfish Senators, making backroom deals, bribery, buying votes and lying is just plain wrong straight up. Most American's don't live their lives like this. Shame on Barack, Nancy and Harry.

    January 15, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  16. D.D.

    It should not be this close. Every Democratic voter in the state should pick up another Democratic voter or two or three and make certain Senator Kennedy's seat remains in the party. You can keep this seat with a little more hummph.
    The Nation is cheering your efforts. Now is the time to "revert the tears to travel" to the polls.

    January 15, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. gt

    more change a coming... brown is in the middle ,, we need more leaders who will work both sides and just get this economy going.. brown will do just fine,,,

    January 15, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. Mike in MN

    Even in Mass. where registered Democrats out number registered Republicans 3 to 1, Democrats are in trouble. Polls may show that Republicans are less loved than Democrats. But the polls that matter most are the ones that represent real votes. In those polls voters are clearly not opposed to voting for a Republican, we saw that back in November and we see it now. It may be that these new emerging Republican canditates are getting out a message that is more attractive than the Republicans of the past, or it may be that voters are opposed to what is happening in Washington and the only way to stop it is to vote out the Democrats and hope the Republicans get it going forward. Either way the Democrats are in big trouble. Obama has not deliverd the hope and change people were looking for.

    January 15, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. Ironic Parody

    Interesting. The party of so-called "family values" is now supporting Brown, who took all of his clothes off for a nude centerfold photo. Please.

    Imagine the far-right outrage IF Coakley had done the same thing. Ahh, Republican double standards and hypocrisy.

    January 15, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. BB

    It's pretty amazing that the Democrats are fighting hard to hold their ground even in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, they've in-fought and delayed so much that they've led the American electorate to feel as if it misplaced its mandate in 2006 and 2008.

    If the health care bill passes, long-term Democratic chances for success will be much brighter, but if it doesn't they'll lose the Senate in November and all hope of enacting reform will be dead.

    Leave it to the Left to get control of the White House, the House, and the Senate but still not accomplish anything, or at least do an exceptionally poor job of publicizing their accomplishments.

    They have good policies. They just need to enact them.

    January 15, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Anonymous

    I like how you show only one Scott Brown sign and the rest Martha Coakley. That's because no one has her signs on their lawns.

    January 15, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. Raj A

    As an Independent who voted for Obamal, my family and I are supporting Scott Brown. He will restore some balance to the hyperpartisan environment in Washington. I will be voting for the GOP in 2010 and 2012.

    January 15, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. David

    Wow, I think a GOP leading the poll or deadlocked in a Dem state just goes to show how much people are put off by the current landscape.

    January 15, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. Future expat

    The GOP is a cancer on America. I'm leaving before it eats this nation alive.

    January 15, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  25. Chris - MN

    As a DEM, it seems clear that there will likely be setbacks in the next election. The question then becomes – when the GOP is able to grind the legislative process to a complete halt, will they still be able to call it all Obama's fault?

    January 15, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
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