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. Fitz in Texas

    You would get my vote Mr. Brown if I lived in Massachusetts. Since I can't vote for you I did the next best thing.....sent money in order to help your campaign.

    January 15, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. Hammerer

    Voters are so excited about the Obamacare that if the Dems don't get the bill passed their chance for reelection is in danger.
    Wait Coakley is the Dem that is in favor of the Obamacare!
    What is happening? Could it be that voters actually oppose the Messiah's healthcare plan?

    January 15, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Clifford in New York

    I want to hear from all those Liberals now who said the GOP was dead!!

    January 15, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Tom

    Sorry Democrats.

    You have ALREADY lost.

    There are three scenarios here:

    1) Brown loses by a wide margin. You win here, but this looking like (by far) the least likely of the three potential outcomes.

    2) Brown loses in a nail-biter. Sure you have one extra Senate seat, but how do you think every other Democratic politician (who doesn't have the luxury of running in one of the most liberal states in America) going to feel?

    3) Brown wins. Your nightmare scenario. You still, of course, might be able to "save" Obamacare by delay tactics (i.e., not certifying the votes for weeks), but that will make you look horrible to an American people who are (with every passing day) becoming more and more skeptical about it.

    Either way - this is horrible news for the DEMS.

    Worst news . . . this is nothing but a precursor for November 2010.

    January 15, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Juan

    Vote for the good of America, not for any misguided loyalty to a polital party or the legacy of anyone person. Just Vote !

    January 15, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. Mike

    Go Brown! Go people of Mass.! It is up to you to save us from this disaster!

    January 15, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. billy

    Sgt. Michael J. Coakley

    Thanks for dropping the case Cuz....

    Attorney General Martha M. Coakley

    January 15, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  8. dan

    Why vote for a Democrat or Republican when both parties are corrupt? Why not vote for a third or fourth party candidate?

    January 15, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. Jeremiah

    Looks like people are getting sick of the total power the dems have.

    January 15, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. Eileen

    Obama should never have been elected in the first place. Thank God this country is waking up. The people see what lying, hypocrits the Dems are. I am shocked that VA, NJ, and now Mass. turned so quickly. I mean Mass., come on the writing is on the wall. Dems boasted that Conservatism was dead, well in there face.

    Pelosi, Reid and Obama are lying, corrupt weasels.

    January 15, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. judgement day 2010

    It's already over for the left.
    Even if the republican loses... It's too close. This is Massechusetts for heavens sake!!!
    This is a sign of things to come in the fall.
    Look out dems, the writings on the wall.

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

    It's time to pull the plug on the Obama-Pelosi-Reid steamroller. They have been ramming their agenda through Congress, limiting debate and refusing to allow differing opinions to influence the outcome. If we really want a good health care bill, as opposed to a fast health care bill, we will take time to consider the options. This is the biggest piece of social legislation since Johnson's Great Society programs. It deserves study and scrutiny. Instead, we get deals made in smoke-filled back rooms, more reminiscent of Tammany Hall than the open, transparent system we were promised.

    We need to do something about health care. But I'm voting for Scott Brown, because we need to do the right "something" about health care.

    January 15, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. guvments grate!!

    If Brown wins, whos gonna sine my welfare chek? whos gonna giv me free helth care? whos gonna pay fo me kids? VOTE (D)!!!!!! VOTE BIGGUR GOVMENT!!!!

    January 15, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. Where's socialism? Oh, that was just a GOP scare tactic

    Why are most of you people here su gullible.

    Let me ask you all: what were McCain and Obama's poll numbers right before the election?

    And what were the real results?

    Does it ever occur to you that any media outlet will close gaps in polls to lure people to watch their TV stations, web page, etc?

    But in one week the comments on here will be "Yeah she won but did you see how close it came?"

    The End.

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

    If I were on facebook I would give this a thumbs up.

    January 15, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  16. Mike T

    The poll results have nothing to do with the health care issue, and is in no way shape or form a referendum on Obama's job performance.

    I live in Mass and have looked at both candidates. I voted Obama for president. I am voting Brown for senate.

    I don't like Brown's view on health care or the economy. What I don't like more is Coakley's attitude. She has been walking around for months like this is her birth right or something. Then starts slagging Brown w/ negative half truths in TV ads, downright ugly claims. Quotes a newspaper endorsement that has the same credibility as a tabloid mag. Then disappears during peak campaign time to rub elbows w/ healthcare lobbyists in DC. Then one of her aides almost beats up a reporter. Her arrogance astonishes me.

    January 15, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. rob

    I know that the people of Mass are smart enough to elect Coakley.

    January 15, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. Willy Brown

    As an independent voter Scott Brown is a fresh face and new blood badly needed in Congress. He expressed his self well and his vision for Massachusetts and his bid for the US Senate seat. The state of Massachusetts hastily reinvented the state laws to place Martha Coakley in the vacant seat in order for her to aid Harry Reid and Obama for a token vote on a Health care bill that nobody but special interest groups know what’s in it. Martha Coakley is running against the Bush & Cheney ticket and not listening to the people of Massachusetts but only hearing the voice of her master Harry Reid. My vote goes to Scott Brown!

    January 15, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Michael from Ventura

    Come on Dems- this is not the time to give in to more fear and smear stuff. Teddy deserves much better than this- It should be a walk-

    January 15, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. dude palin

    someone please get the Dems.to the polls !!!!!

    January 15, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  21. lisa010

    Don't believe it folks – it's here to sell news!

    January 15, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Sally

    How can people even consider putting in another uncaring, greedy Republican into the Senate! All they care about is helping their rich business cronies and keeping taxes down. They could care less about middle class Americans. Eight years of Bush should have taught Americans something.

    January 15, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  23. utahsang

    Coakley was recently in washington D.C getting money for her campaign from special interest groups and lobbyists . I guess the voters in massachussetts see through her and don't believe she represents change they can believe in.

    January 15, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    I agree with the person who said we dems are in trouble whether we pass healthcare reform or not. You guys may have killed it, but whst will you do when costs skyrocket in a few years. And don't sAlivate about november, because things can changhe in ten months.

    January 15, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. Bob in Pa

    And the talking heads are scrambling to spin this as not being a referedum on Obama, Health Care, or Cap & Trade.

    January 15, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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