January 23rd, 2010
04:45 PM ET
4 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. Nacho

    "Narrowly' defeated???

    That's pretty funny.

    -N

    January 23, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. Death Panel Sarah

    So.....to show their anger, they are killing 40,000 plus ininsured Americans a year????

    January 23, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Nelly

    When is someone going to come out say what needs to be said. Americans are crazy and stupid. Evidence: 8 years of Clinton equated to relative prosperity. What did we do after Clinton? Elected Bush to 2 terms when his 1st term was bad enough. After giving Bush and Republicans 8 years mess things up, Americans are now upset about Obama who has barely been in office one year. This despite the fact that most business experts admit the bail-out probably saved us from a depression. I'm pissed about the cause of the bail-out moreso than about the bail-out.

    We readily sent untold billions, and probably at least a trillion through Iraq to help stuff the pockets of Cheney cronies, but we don't want to spend and actually save in the long run to make sure most Americans have quality health care without going broke. We send more power to the health care insurers knowing they will screw us the first chance they get. Premiums keep going through the roof and individual policy holders have to hope and prey their claims get paid. Amazing. Big business has us by the you know what. They win coming and going.

    January 23, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. Lilarose in Oregon

    Well, let's just see what the Republicans can do now to further screw up the country.

    They did all they could to keep Obama from being successful.

    I believe in the Democratic platform. There is nothing that would cause me to vote for a Republican, ever.

    But some people go from one party to the other, voting for a person rather than what their party stands for.

    January 23, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. richard

    "Nearly two thirds of Brown's supporters" are Republicans, what did you expect them to say. If you questioned the Democrat's supporters I'm sure "nearly two thirds" of them, at least, would say the opposite.

    January 23, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. jeff

    The win by Brown on Tuesday was not a 'narrow' victory. Five points and over 100,000 votes separated the two is not a narrow win.

    January 23, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. ap2960

    "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."

    5 points is not a "narrow defeat."

    January 23, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. altapres

    Obama & democrats on a freefall.

    January 23, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  9. Ron Ft. Myers

    Except for the "far nuts" I believe most people would like to see this or any administration succeed. I think the issue is that most people are sick of what they perceive as the arrogance coming out of Washington. They are paid by tax dollars via taxpayer's earnings and they refuse to listen to the public, their BOSS. Frankly, the notion of the party system appears to have run it's course and people are sick and tired of excuses and please, no more "inherited theis after the previous 8 years." That is yesterday's news and let's not forget many of the players on both sides of the line are still in Washington, this is not a 100% Bush problem.

    January 23, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Steve, NY

    Obama has not got this message. He was on TV on Friday,in Ohio, and stated that the anger that voters expressed in Massachusetts was due to anger expressed for the last 8 years. It's Bush's falt again. What gives?
    Was the survey inaccurate?

    January 23, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. Dave C - NJ

    So people that voted for Brown don't like Obama...SHOCKING!

    January 23, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  12. Sig Martin

    Brown "narrowly" defeated Coakley? 5 percentage points is narrow?

    January 23, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    If the voters anger put him in to office NOW, Mr. Brown needs to be concerned about how the voters are feeling when its time for his re-election. If they're not angry and he proves himself to be the Republican that he truly is, he'll be in a lot of trouble.

    January 23, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. Sandra, Atlanta

    It just never ceases to amaze me how Americans have such short term memories. The election of Scott Brown made the insurance companies delirious. You forget what the republicans did to us since 1994. They have no ideas unless it is to cut taxe and put money in the pockets of big business at America's expenses.. Well that really worked well with 2 wars, their token prescription drug legislation that didn't allow prescription prices to be negotiated, billions for the health care industry for this Medicare Advantage mess that basically cost Medicare an average of 14% more per person for those who chose it, and let's not forget the really stupid stuff they did regarding science or lack thereof and Terry Schivo, and just general crookedness.. I will NEVER vote for anyone with an 'R' behind their name again just on principal (which is something none of them have).

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

    It sure seems to me that people quickly forget that the bush/cheney team and their gop congress put us on the brink of financial disaster to start this whole mess. I would say that we need to give President Obama and congress some time to clean up the mess that they inherited. Give me a break Go OBAMA/BIDEN

    January 23, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. John

    Brown "narrowly" defeated Martha Coakley? You are the only political anything that would describe a five percentage point victory by a conservative over a liberal in Massachusetts as narrow.

    January 23, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. KO

    This is a totally misleading poll. Since Massachusetts is a heavily Democratic state, a better indicator would be why did voters who typically vote Democratic, or voted for Obama, stay home (which many thousands did); likely because they think that the Democrats, and Obama, haven't done enough to advance their agenda. Elections aren't about polls, they're about getting voters out–if you disappoint your base and your core supporters, they stay home.

    January 23, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. harold

    Voter anger ...huh?.. Well voters angry.. keep what you got.. NO health Insurance keep it that way.. Take bankruptcy.. will do it.. Demcrats have been trying for 70 years to give Americans Health Insurance and some choice other than finance ruin like they have now.. But if you like your Pirvate Health Insurance government which it is .. then keep it.. If you like Private Health Insurance Premium taxes going up 20% a year.. then ikeep it that way.. By the way voters who are angry... good luck...And by the way get your friends the Repubicans to Repeal that Socialist Medicare .. will ya?

    January 23, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. LeftyMarty

    Yup ! The people are dissatisfied...so they should stick
    their heads in the sand and vote with the party of the
    people...the GOP of Reagan and Bush who are in bed
    with the insurance companies, military suppliers, big
    corporations and right wing foundations who are the
    real pals of the lunch pail crowd. Thomas Frank wrote
    a book about this idiocy called " What's the Matter with
    Kansas", a book the misguided middle class should
    read !

    January 23, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. Bob

    Real smart. Mad about the economy, so vote for a candidate of the party which bankrupted our nation financially and morally by launching immoral foreign military adventures. Americans are far more stupid than the foreigners who detest America give them credit for. The nation was founded for a well-educated, freedom loving, moral, and independent electorate- doesn't work too well for the uneducated bums that populate our nation today.

    January 23, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. House Guest in SC

    YES, VOTERS are ANGRY, and DO NOT LIKE THE DEMOCRATIC AGENDA NOW. I HOPE THEY GOT THE MESSAGE!
    I am an Independent who voted for Obama - and, if I lived in Mass and had the opportunity, I would have cast my vote for Republican Scott Brown, too!
    I am extremely DISAPPOINTED with Obama, who hasn't kept one-single-campaign promise: everything from 'the first thing he'll do is END THE WAR in Iraq." Didn't he add," in his first 6 months???" Instead, he ADDED some 40,000 additional troops to the region! The first batch wasn't reported at all as far as I know, but the second deployment was.
    Then there was "closing Gitmo" and "finding jobs"..."transparency in Gov't" and the list goes on.... His accomplishments are ZILCH out here in "real life." We don't see any change. He wrapped himself -and his ego- in that expensive gobble-de-gook Health Care Bill, put together behind closed doors, and ignored everyone and everything else, including the growing DEFICIT! Campaigning, he compared himself to Abe Lincoln, but he sure is no "Honest Abe."
    He chanted "change, change, change" on the campaign trail, and now with Scott Brown in that Senate Seat – we FINALLY are seeing "change!"

    January 23, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. whyus

    Now that the Health Care bill has failed, Obama is going off again on his other targets, specifically the Banks. However, one should remember what happened when he did this,.. the stock market tanked immediately. Also, when he and Congress imposed the Credit Card Act, rates went up on almost everyone. If he insists on getting in the way of captialism, he wil again fail.

    January 23, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. James Tola

    My question about polls being conducted by telephone is how are people who no longer use land lines for telephone service being sampled? Are these polls missing the younger generation who do everything by cell phone? I have not used my land line in two years.

    I find it interesting how fickle a society we are. If you are old enough to remember the Reagan years, January 1985 was the beginning of his second term which was met with record deficits to date and the biggest government spending in years and this was a Republican in office. Check out Wikepedia and 1985 to see details of our political landscape.

    James

    January 23, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Fair is Fair

    Polls, schmolls... right dems? Right???

    January 23, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. billy123

    I am angry too at both the GOP and the Dems for being rolled by the GOP. I am also mad President Obama who was also rolled by the GOP on health care.

    January 23, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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