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. Kush

    Just go to the Sanate and VOTE NO on everything just like your cousins other GOP Senators and the same voters who voted for you will vote you out on 2012.I do not understand American people,they have very short memories.

    January 23, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  2. Willy Brown

    Democrats are going down in 2010 & 2012.

    January 23, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. tom

    Will Dems ever learn? We don't want big brother telling us what we have to do.

    January 23, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  4. arturo a. monteros

    liberal, progresive, godless ideas don't have place in the american society. leave that for the europeans. with their decadent philosophies. we leave in a vibrant, first step of the experiment of a true democracy society, modeled after a relifious moral, but we have to have faith, in ourselves and in the historic role that no nature, but superior forces have imposed upon us. we will be al right.

    January 23, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Bruce Beck

    While I think the article is fairly accurate, I would question the1st sentence of the 4th paragraph. "Brown narrowly defeated Coakly" Surely this is some kind of innocent mistake by the author. Trouncing an opponent by nearly 150,000 votes and nearly 6 percentage points is anything but a narrow defeat.

    January 23, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  6. Rose

    Brown narrowly defeated state attorney general Martha Coakley ...

    Since when does 52% to 47% mean a narrow victory? Those percentages look pretty solid to me.

    January 23, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. PL

    I am glad that the poll results are out which presents facts, not conjectures, not spins.
    It made me cringe when democrat pundits (Paul Begalla and likes) and White House came out spinning re Brown's win and Coakley's loss, treating the public as fools. (Unfortunately, there will be those who continue to drink the kool-aid.
    The results are not for republicans to gloat. Politicians of both parties should "wake up" and take heed if they think that their power can enable them to do whatever they want regardless of voters sentiments.

    January 23, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. david gerstenfeld

    You'd think that the Democratic party would have put away the guns they've been using for years to shoot themselves in the're collective feet before the presidential election, but apparently they still have lots of bullets left.
    With leaders? like 'Botox Girl' & 'Mr. Dynamic' it could have been predicted. What a total disappointment after the dedication in getting Obama elected. What's next ?
    David, Las Vegas

    January 23, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. Justin Believeit

    All you off the chart crazies, do you believe it now?

    January 23, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. KMN

    I think this thing is being overanalyzed. Simple reason why Republican won the seat is because Obama and Democrats didnt follow up on the promise to help common man. Independent White man gravitated towards Obama when Obama and Democrats talked about Main Street. But once in power ( All branches) their action did not show that they are going to help common man but it was same DC with liberal agenda (Special Interest) over it. Most people were suffering ( Middle White America) from was underwater mortgages. House was not just investment but a Dream for most Americans and when the voted for Democrats they expected them to take care of this problem. And how Dems and Obama paid them back is by giving money to banks without putting any condition on banks to take care of Underwater Mortgages. People felt cheated by same people they were expecting to help them.

    Healthcare is still on people mind but that was long term concern and the way Obama is working on Health care bill it is give away to Health and Drug industry ( As much I have read about bill being developed). Even on this agenda neithe Dems nor Obama showed any leadership. But they still have time for this.

    And last I think Obama is just too happy just being president. What we saw from him in the campaign just look like ruse now. He has shown no leadership.

    January 23, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Lance

    Obama has worked hard to alienate the middle. I had been "unaffiliated" for years (there is no "independant" option in Colorado), I reregistered as Republican last week. I am so very dissapointed that Obama is not the centrist he said he was. I have never felt so betrayed by a politican or a political campaign. I am tired of these bullys forcing legislation down our throats and completely ignoring the will of the electorate who put them in office. If the Democrats go ahead and force feed this awful healthcare bill on a public that has clearly told them no, they can expect a very difficult November.

    January 23, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Arrogant, overreaching, dishonest, same old politics– a fraud!

    January 23, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. Socrates in Leominster

    Voter anger?????????? For me to think that those pools reflect what average age americans means nothing. DO you think that asking questions to 5,000 people reflects what the majority think or want?
    The majority of people in this country don't know how to balance their checkbooks or have an idea how the government operates. There was no voter agner.. it was more of a race between a man and a woman.. and the most thinking that a waman doesn't have the intellect or capacity to be a senator.. of course, when we see Palin out there.. she can reinforces that belief.
    And, if those pools supposedly reflect the anger of voters have.. Against whom> Against President Obama? He is less than 1 YEAR and he is trying to fix what the arrogats, crooked, hypocrite republicans did to this country after 7 years.. and now those polls are trying to tell us that people are angry? People are STUPID and IGNORANT!! They are because they don't realize that the insurance lobbies don't want some control that would reduce their profits. DO you think that the executives of the insurance companies, same as republican politicans, care about the health of many individuals that can't afford insurance health..? People in this country deserve what they get because, to be honest, 95.0% of republican and democrat politicans are a bunch of thieves, crooks, self serving, hypocrites..but, at least democrats are compassionate and not selfi and greedy as republicans are.

    January 23, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. Tammy in Arizona

    So fact remains... Brown won NOT because educated voters chose him but because angry voters dont want health-care.

    January 23, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. Dave in Ohio

    "Brown narrowly defeated state attorney general Martha Coakley in the special election "

    Your kidding right? Wasn't close.

    January 23, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    The American voterhas finally woken up. Too bad Obama and his band of idiots haven't. The good news is a lot of those idiots will be unemployed come November.

    January 23, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. Insightful

    Lest we forget the basics that rule voter emotion:

    1. Scott Brown and his everyman looks powered that truck into the Massachusettes psyche .

    2. Scott Brown sanitized his candidacy from any party affiliation.

    3. Teabaggers, corporations, special interests loaded his campaign with volitional treasures when it appeared that Coakley was unconsciously distancing herself from independents and possible crossovers.

    That's it in a nutshell! No referendum on President Obama who is still highly popular in the Northeastern section.

    Also, some polls show that the much maligned health care issue is still very high in the minds of American masses....moreso than the need to manufacture more weapons to "go after them terrorists" as Brown proclaimed he was going to Washington to push for.

    Lastly, if our economy is in such disarray, then our massive foreign aid to othere countries should be channeled to our internal problems here in our own country.

    The love of this country by its citizens is mostly exemplified by how much it trumpets concerns for American masses well being to our representatives. And, how quickly it votes in those representatives who consider AMERICAN MASSES first.

    May Ted Kennedy soon be quieted from rolling over in his grave! !

    January 23, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  18. Billaformerdemocrat

    The dems are getting what they deserve they've showed nothing but weakness we need strong government not wishy washy

    January 23, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. Joseph Balliro

    Sen. Brown won by over 5% and over 110,000 votes hardly a narrow victory as your article claims.

    January 23, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. Sven

    Ahhh, the weekly "polls show Dems are in trouble" ticker headline from CNN - like clock-work.
    What's next up for today - Obama "slams" critics?Republicans "blast" Obama?
    See you again next week.

    January 23, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Albert K. L.A., CA

    The questions asked in the poll prove that the the Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University have no clue what happen in Mass. Any poll questioning all voters in Mass is worthless because it will include the feelings of those who voted against Obama in 2008 and that does not shed light on what happen last week. It ignors the power of the swing voters who voted for Obama but turn their noses up now. The issue is why did white swing voters in Mass walk away from Obama? First, Mass alreadty has universal health care, and same-sex marriage, thus Obama needs Mass swing voters more than they need him. Since it was white swing voters who turn the election it is clear that enough white voters to swing an election got there feelings hurt when Obama spoke stupidley against a white cop in Cambridge, a town with a black mayor in a state with a black govenor,

    January 23, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. mario ca

    The futur of mass is on a bad hand

    January 23, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. Term Limits

    If you listen to Obama explain it, its the same voter anger that got him elected, people are still made at Bush. Using Obama's logic people are so mad at Bush the liberals of Mass. voted in a Republican to the sacred seat of Ted Kennedy. This guy is not only unqualified to be President he is not qualified to think logically!

    January 23, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  24. repubabubba

    They needed a poll for this?

    January 23, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. Ed

    So nice to see confirmation that we the people can make still make ourselves heard. Voting is the option that we have to send a message and it looks like that one election changed the focus of the current administration. There will be plenty of more upsets this year.

    January 23, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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