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

Poll: Voter anger helped GOP pull Senate upset


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. Rob

    "Brown...narrowly defeated Coakley" Wasn't his victory by about the same margin by which Obama won. More dubious CNN commentary masquerading as a news story.news

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

    The Post needed a poll to tell them that????

    January 23, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. DeepThought

    Here's another thing to consider. What about the one-third of people that voted for Brown that did not oppose the Democratic agenda? Or one quarter of people that voted for Brown that are not angry with Obama? Without those people, Brown would have lost by as much as a 25 points, i.e. a landslide. It seems to me that the deciding vote actually went to those people who had no particularly strong national agenda but just thought Brown was a slightly less distasteful candidate than Coakley.

    January 23, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. Shelly

    The desperate people of Mass. did not vote against Democrats because of their 'help the middle class' policies...they voted against the tiring old politics of Congress of BOTH the Republicans and the Democrats. Scott Brown went around falsely advertising himself as an Independent candidate. And the folks in Mass. were duped. Wait till they realize he is the Party of NO....NO education, NO health care, NO tax cots for the middle classes etc.
    I know for certain that the Republican agenda would be a disaster for this country....they are definitely NOT the party for the people and historically have NEVER been, They are the party of money.They are the worst of what American ideals present...evidenced by the conservative Supreme Court juddges on the unlimited financing of campaign advertising by corporations...plutocracy NOT DEMOCRACY.
    For them it is not 'We the People' bur " We the Corporations"

    January 23, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. whaley41

    Well...DUH!! What do they expect?

    January 23, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. JeDien

    The third paragraph quells any lingering belief that this election was not a referendum on Obama's policies. Obama is charming, exciting, extremely personable and likable – essential qualities for a successful politician, and the reason he won in 2008 – but Americans do not care for his style of governing, or lack thereof. With his extreme spending (we are beyond comparisons to W.), calculated placation and over-deliberation, he often appears to be in over his head, casting the pre-election questioning of his qualifications back into relevancy. As it turns out, it takes more than social work, a legislative voting record and a soothing baritone to be an effective leader.

    January 23, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. Dave - Texas independent

    "Brown narrowly defeated state attorney general Martha Coakley "???
    Since when is 105,000 votes in a state the size of Mass a norrow margin?

    January 23, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. southern cousin

    There is a difference between opposition and anger. The libs want to make it out like we are crazy so they like to use the term anger a lot. Obama and his cohorts will latch on to the anger term and make it like they did with the TEA party and depict us (aided of course by the always liberally biased media) as crazy racists. Of course that will be just fine, it means the idiots still don't get it. Notice that he goes after banks and stocks driop, That was my 401k, and he still doesn't understand.

    January 23, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. Anthony

    'Independent Voters', the truly confused. Wandering around the wilderness waiting for their Moses. I'm sure when he does come he'll find them worshiping a golden calf...... Find something you believe in, and stick with it people.

    January 23, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. rainierclimber

    After 8 years of Republican rule....the country wanted them out.....now...one year democratic rule thepublic wants them out. So...the republs will gain again and the public will want them out.

    Do we see a pattern here ?. Just might be we can never be satisfied with anything.

    January 23, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. Tarat

    I would say any incumbent is in danger of losing re-election, regardless of party. People are just fed up with all this Washington partisan bickering, be it the Democrats’ perceived incompetence, the Republicans’ perceived apathy, or the Tea Partys’ perceived ignorance.

    I think what people really want is a fresh face with a positive message, a candidate who will go to Washington and get the job done. And I’m sorry, but it takes tough debate and compromise to make real change, something completely foreign to the entranced political parties.

    January 23, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. Gil Oberdas

    I support the agenda of Obama's, but not the Party f "NO!" Now the Supreme Court will allow banks, corporations and big oil to put in unlimited amounts of money to buy elections. As if their lobbyists haven't been doing a good enough job for years. We will have a U. S. CEO and not a President soon! Angry yes! But at republicans!

    January 23, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  13. Jim Hall

    People need to remember that the mess that this country is in is not the doing of President Obama is is of the village idiots era (Bush). When FDR inherited the great depression of the 30's it was also caused by two republican presidents. The population of this country was about half of what it is now, the country was not as technical as it is today (the computer was unknown), and the list goes on and on. Believe me I am 62 years old and took government and economic in college and graduated with a doctorate degree. This country will take longer than the 16 years that it took FDR to turn it around just due to the facts that I have presented here. One of the reasons that people expected President Obama to turn it around now is that we are so use to things and wanting things NOW. Those days are over as President Obama said in one of his speaches. So get ready for the long haul. Jim Hall Kansas City, Mo

    January 23, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. William Doores

    I would not call winning by one hundred thousand votes a narrow victory.

    January 23, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. notamused

    let's move forward as a country now since the people that promised to do so have failed miserably. People like pelosi who railed against bush and promised to have the most ethical, transparent and accountable congress ever basically created the least ethical, least transparent and least accountable congress EVER>

    January 23, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. Cara Ellison

    Brown "narrowly" defeated Coakley? It was seven percentage points; that's nearly a landslide.

    January 23, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  17. Andrew

    The problem is elections are just that ,ELECTIONS! Until these boneheaded Right and Left Congressmen/Women start working for the people, and stop using talking points provided by their political party, will the citizens actually respect the representatives. I wish each representative, senator came to Washington with original ideas and ambitions beyond the party agenda, maybe we don't need parties but just normal average people with different ideas, instead of right or left.
    The 2 party system has failed. America will not be the shining light of liberty and freedom until Washington changes it's methods of business.

    January 23, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  18. cane

    How soon everyone forgets why the Republicans were thrown out of power in 2006. Those reasons remain today regardless of voter frustration with the economy. The Republican solution to all problems is to cut taxes. Of course the group getting the most favorable tax cuts are the wealthy.

    The foundation for the great recession were laid down years ago. Put the Republicans back in power and the same results will occur as in the past. Everyone should get over this notion of bi-partisanship. It's over. Balance and moderation don't win elections. Citizens with those attributes are not egomaniacs and that's what it takes to get elected in today's environment. Your choice is simple. Vote for those candidates who most reflect and represent your values not your emotions. Check their public records, see who is funding their campaigns, do your homework because elections matter.

    If you don't believe that just look at the recent Supreme Court ruling on campaign financing. That vdecision would not have happened if it were not for George W. Bush.

    January 23, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  19. republicans hate america

    I will be first in line to vote for Obama again.

    January 23, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. Surf Dog San Diego

    How childish can people be? Voters are upset because the republicans and their corporate johns have spewed so much hatred toward health care reform that the wishy-washy people, who know nothing about anything, got turned off. So maybe we'll never get health care reform, and the reuglicans and their corporate puppeteers will continue raping the country. When Bush starts trillion dollar wars for nothing, nobody says a thing. The rich get richer, and the poor get dumber and dumber by the day.

    January 23, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. Peter Vaguely

    What this election and these polls show is that we American voters are pathetic, ignorant, self absorbed simpletons who want everything to be "OK." Please let anybody take responsibility except me. We stagger about thrashing our limbs and stamping our feet wildly throwing our support to anyone who will tell us that they will make it all better. We American citizens need to grow up, stop watching TV and playing video games and generally indulging ourselves. We have no one to blame for our predicament than ourselves!

    I am going to stop going to other people's "tea parties" and start thinking for myself.

    January 23, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. LMC

    I honestly do not understand the anger suddenly going against the Democratic party. This is not the party that is in the pocket of big business, including health insurance and pharmaceutical companies. It was the policies of the Bush Administration and the Republicans that diverted us from a path of possible pay off of our debt by this year, to a path of a needless war, bad business decisions by banks and mortgage companies, increasing debt and the worst recession since the Great Depression. The bail-outs began with the Bush administration. Do people honestly want to see our economy fail further? Did people really think that the destruction of eight years of the Bush administration was going to be turned around in only one year? Recessions take several years to come back from, especially when money has been poured into a needless war. The problems in Iraq today are mostly due to our war there. Though we didn't need to be there, we also just can't walk out and turn our backs on Iraq, especially since our attack and presence is the cause of their current problems. Do people really think things would have turned around faster with John McCain? It would have been impossible. Get real folks!

    January 23, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. Paul H

    Yes voters are mad! Voters are not getting what they are really voting for. Bushes agenda was well on the liberal side of things, so some of this massive spending is his fault. But Obama took the baton, and ran away with it. Cap and trade will raise the cost of living in this country in a big way, the bail outs are nothing but big paydays for certain institutions. Our government now has it's hands in the auto industry, and in banking. Abortion is looked at as a medical need, rather than a choice procedure for an inconvenient pregnancy (Being accountable isn't an option anymore). This list is bigger, and the details are massive. But you get the jest of things. The left and right are so out of control that everyone is pointing the finger at each other. We need to come back to the middle, and stop getting hung up on the few issues that only effect a small minority, and get back to the issues that effect everyone in this country.

    January 23, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  24. Jill-IN

    Scott Brown narrowly defeated Coakley. She didn't work hard enough for the votes and voters are already angry. What speaks louder is all of the Massachusetts voters who did not vote. Brown may be a model and pinup but he is no populist.

    January 23, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Harold

    I am 77 years old, i have been a democrat untill this bunch got in the white house .NO MORE VOTE Republican

    January 23, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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