January 23rd, 2010
04:45 PM ET
5 years ago

Poll: Voter anger helped GOP pull Senate upset

ALT TEXT

A new poll shows voter anger at current conditions in the country right now and at the Democrats' agenda in Washington helped fuel Browns victory. (Getty Images)

(CNN) - Voter anger at current conditions in the country right now and at the Democrats' agenda in Washington helped fuel the upset victory of Republican Scott Brown in Tuesday's special senate election in Massachusetts, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted right after the Tuesday election by the Washington Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University, was released Saturday morning.

Nearly two-thirds of Brown voters questioned in the poll say that their vote was partially to express opposition to the Democrats agenda in Washington. And three-quarters of people who cast ballots for Brown, a Massachusetts state senator, say they are dissatisfied or angry with the policies of President Barack Obama's administration.

Brown narrowly defeated state attorney general Martha Coakley in the special election to fill the last three years of the term of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Brown became the first Massachusetts Republican to win a senate election since 1972. Brown's victory in a state where Democrats win most elections, preceded by GOP victories in gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and Virginia last November, appear to have put the Democrats on the defensive.

The poll indicates that independent voters made up about half of the electorate in Tuesday's election in Massachusetts, and that Brown topped Coakely by around a two to one margin among independents. Exit polls from 2008 indicate that Barack Obama won independents in the Bay State by 17 percentage points over John McCain in the presidential election. Exit polls from November's contests also indicate that Republicans won the independent vote in New Jersey and Virginia.

The Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University poll was conducted January 20-21, the two days following the special election, with 880 people who voted in the contest questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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Filed under: Martha Coakley • Popular Posts • Scott Brown
soundoff (185 Responses)
  1. Bob

    Excuse me CNN, but there was nothing narrow about the margin of Brown's victory.

    January 23, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. Hammerer

    100% right!
    Tired of politics as usual!
    Against Obama's agenda from top to bottom, but certainly not a ringing endorsement of the Rebublicans.
    Time for some honesty!

    January 23, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. Wayne

    I really think for Washington to get the message we need to vote all incumbants out in November. Everyone let them know we have had enough. Pay attention to the people of this country. Not an agenda not what lobbieist want or taking care of illegal take care of the citizens of the United States of America.

    January 23, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Future expat

    Although I'm upset at the Dems' fecklessness thus far, nothing on earth could possibly make me vote for a Republican.

    Make no mistake, people, we are now on plan B. The aggressive, destructive capitalism and imperialism that characterizes the GOP was plan A. That didn't work. It is the pinnacle of stupidity to think that reverting to those failed ideas is the way out.

    If this doesn't work, then there's nowhere to go.

    January 23, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  5. Benny Mitchell

    This was not a narrow defeat!

    January 23, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  6. travis l.

    why is it ,just because he won by a mere 5 percentage points, Obamas in trouble?what about all the other people who voted?just because they are 5 percent less they are ignored? its time to get real here.i don't remember repubs sayin after 2008 that they should work with democrats because they lost but now democrats are suppose to "listen" to the votes of a special election & do everything by the GOP handbook?i don't understand how anyone falls for the GOP's crap!its well beyond me

    January 23, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. vito

    How short is the memory of the American people. They blame what's going on in Washington on the Democrats, when the party of NO has been against everything the President has tried to do. How soon they forget that it took 8 years to turn a surplus into the current mess we are in. I hope a loved one of yours who needs insurance for a health issue doesn't get turned down for a pre-existing condition. If they do thank a Republican and their friends the Insurance industry.

    January 23, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. C Spurgeon

    great and a lot will get done now although frankly I think all congress and the President should have 6 year term limits and then new people in. You can overlap congress every two years to keep the experience and the corruption down. The President will not to run for office whe he is tryuing to get things done and look how much money we well save if the benefits are limited to their terms. Gee they w2illn have to go find real jobs...

    January 23, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. ross berg- Buffalo NY

    One would hope that all Republican politicians are paying attention to these results which starkly show that the Independents were the election.

    The just released Gallup poll shows that Independents OVERWHELMINGLY think Sara Palin is " unqualified" to hold national office by a nearly 3:1 ratio.

    A word to the wise!!!

    January 23, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Mark Eaton

    I lost thousands of dollars from my 401k, as did most every other American. I have just 4 words for Obama. SHUT THE HELL UP! Every time you open your mouth or come up with a new idea, my future looks worse and worse. So do us all a favor. Crawl in some hole and stay there until we can replace you. DO NOT try to help us any more. Just SHUT THE HELL UP until we replace you. Please, please, please!

    January 23, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. DEM in HI

    Dems better get it right, it's the economy stupid. You cannot go after an expensive health care plan while revenues are shrinking.

    January 23, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. lifelong democrat

    Our anger has not subsided, every time I see Obama on TV ( I voted for the guy), my anger become worse, my regrets voting for him do a high jump it could win a gold Olympic medal.

    Yesterday, he had the audacity to attack decision of the Supreme Court adherance to the FIRST AMMENDMENT in our US CONSTITUTION? More hubris from President Obama every time he open his mouth is making this lifelong democrat start to swear. The BIGGEST threat to OUR democracy is President Obama and my party. I'm sick to my stomach I voted for Obama, I'm sick to my stomach I spent hours and weeks campaigning for Democrat Party. I hope my fellow Americans will forgive me, I've erred.

    January 23, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. Jin

    The Repugnicans are obviously winning the war of B__S___ in the East.
    That portends problems in the South since the East is generally smarter than to listen to talking heads bought by the corporate oligarchy.
    Liberals and Libertarians are going to have to rely on common sense cooperation to save this country from an era of corporate classism. It is sad to see that education has fallen so low that critical thinking by the country"s masses is totally a matter of history. Time to get out the Patrick Henry bumper stickers!!

    January 23, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. GB

    Why were they not angry when Bush was destroying the Country, what a disgrace Mass.

    January 23, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. james

    This country is so divided right now that anyone in office is a target. And, let's face it, Coakley was as dynamic as a visit to the dentist. This was more a case of the better of 2 lesser choices.

    January 23, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. LoveThy Neighbor

    Well, OF COURSE! The poll includes the very same people who voted! No one in my area has anything good to say about the Rebublicans. Why were WE not polled in order to equal things out. The worse thing is the headline. It "appears" to include ALL of America. Such bias. The news is for things that are happening now, not what people would like to happen. Lets' work for the progression of America not the regression. Gotta sell and get ratings though huh!? Sam

    January 23, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  17. Gunnar

    How can u say 'Brown narrowly defeated Oakley'? Stop sounding so liberal in your view. 5 point is narrowly? Give me a break. That is the reason I prefer Fox news any day over your views?

    January 23, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. NotFooledTX

    So, the solution is to elect a person from the party whose ideology landed us in this financial disaster, the party that has adamantly vowed to do nothing to help get us out from under it?

    That makes sense .

    We have every right to be angry, but make sure the anger is rationally placed – you can't let emotions override reality. We've already been down that road, and the end result isn't pretty.

    January 23, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  19. GI Joe

    We the voters are going to oust a LOT of the career politicians. If the new ones don't work for US, they will go too.

    January 23, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  20. Michael from Ventura

    They're angry about the "Obama agenda"? I'm still angry about what happened with 8 long years of abyss! People have short memories!!

    January 23, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. Tony

    Do these folks even know what they are opposing? Right wing radio foments anger so successfully (unfortunately) that a growing segment of our society is distraught, stuck, and P.O-ed and they don't know at whom. Rush and company then fill in the blanks for them. It is indeed scarey.

    January 23, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. Anna

    Obama and Gibbs are going to have a hard time spinning on the "three-quarters of people who cast ballots for Brown ... say they are dissatisfied or angry with the policies of President Barack Obama's administration."

    January 23, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. normajean

    Mr.Brown should enjoy his 15 minutes of fame because it won't last. A basically Democratic state voted this man in because he promised to vote against the health care bill. In as much as Mass. already had their own health care plan, what was the point? Is it because he'[s attractive and a good speaker? Does that sound like anyone else we know.? Things are getting too complicated politically to keep the Sara Palins and Scott Browns in the spotlight. They are both
    going to have to do something very dramatic this year to keep from fading into the woodwork.

    January 23, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. craig

    A 5% win isn't a narrow victory,considering it is more than a 25% swing from previous senatorial election in Mass. Senator Franken's win was a narrow victory.

    January 23, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. NR MD

    As a dem, I am very angry with Obama. Other than talking, he is not doing anything to help jobless/economy. I care about healthcare but not at the extent of bad economy and Jobless. Obama should resign since he lost most loving senate seat. It's a shame on TK and his values. Obama still walking on the foot prints of Bush. Why is he talking all the time not doing anything that is necessary: economy, education, energy, jobs, mortgage, 401k screw up by CEO's Bonuses etc. etc. I can not believe why he shuts down all of those and went with 1 trillion dollar healthcare reform.

    January 23, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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