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

Poll: Voter anger helped GOP pull Senate upset

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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.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


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

    Thank God. Maybe the American public is FINALLY angry enough to go vote. The problem for many, many years is the majority sits back and does absolutely nothing while a small few vote for some knucklehead who filled their head with garbage and their pocket with cash. Now that this has cost us dearly (lousy economy, lousy world reputation, off-balance legal system) MAYBE we will actually do som ething about it. It's LONG past due.

    January 23, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. flex

    HAHAHA you think they are angry now? wait awhile until they will be furious with the republicans!!

    January 23, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. Chuck in CSG

    Hey Congress! Can you hear me now?

    January 23, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. flex

    OH real nice this guy who posed nude in a magazine, real nice! ... i thought conservatives are against that sort of thing??? hypocrites!

    January 23, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  5. Brent

    American polls show that public prefers gridlock. They aren't sure why though.

    January 23, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. Ed

    This is no surprise given the current administration and their complete failure. Of course, liberal fanboys will think otherwise and find some way to blame it on Republcans. They will never understand the real issues or what people really need or want.

    January 23, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. Helmut Scheiss

    Well, duh! With the Dems having a super-majority, they should have been able to push all of Obama's crap through the chute, but couldn't. At least some of the Democratic Congress have a conscience.

    January 23, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. Terry Topham

    I am a Republican who was willing to give our President a chance. He and his team avoided a financial collapse that would have been catastrophic. Since then he has gone downhill. He is trying to do too much at the same time. His health care legislation will be a disaster and I hope they start over. It must rein in rising costs, stop or curb fee for services and save Medicare. Before starting over, however, he needs to focus on the economy, jobs, control spending and efficient use of our armed forces which are spread to thin and cannot long tolerate multiple deployments.

    January 23, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. Roger Carlson

    Ask this question in October. We still have a long way to go to change minds. If the economy turns around it's anybodies guess as to what will happen. The party of NO still has to do something other than not offering any solutions. Give me a break.

    January 23, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. annie s

    I don't want to be mean, but lawdy lawdy, Americans are stupid. So we're mad that the Obama administration didn't wave a magic wand and fix all the nations woes overnight, and we're mad that the Democratics can't manage to keep their legislators in line long enough to have come up with a decent health care reform bill (yet) ....so our response is to bring back the party that actually CAUSED all of our problems to begin with???? Huh.

    January 23, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. Culver Cosby

    Scott Brown 52%, Martha Coakley 47% = narrowly defeated.
    Barack Obama 53%, John McCain 46% = landslide.

    Who does the math at CNN?

    January 23, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. CTR

    Let me get this straight, Brown wins over Coakley by a larger percentage margin than Obama over McCain, yet, according to the author of this "news" article, Brown "narrowly defeats Coakley". As I recall, CNN's comments about the Obama win was Obama's win was a "landslide and a mandate". What kind of reportage is that? Given that Mass normally votes Democrat, I would say that this was just a bit more than a "narrow margin". But spin it how you want.

    January 23, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. all the news that's fit to omit

    I laugh at you gutless liberals who got the marching orders from the DailtyLoss or Stuffington post – "Brown is the next Palin"?

    Real simple sheep, Brown unlike you cowards is a 30 year member of the National guard and is a JAG officer who graduated from Boston College with a law degree. What have you done?

    I like Brown am a Vet and for you to disparage his service is well "kind of Special Olympics like".

    I met him, campaigned for him and voted 20 TIMES for him and I know the man and you sheep are NOT in his league.

    Palin, nice lady, attractive and seems down to earth and she HAS run a business, HAS run a city and HAS run a state and Obambi was a community organizer who lacked the seeds to vote anything but PRESENT the little time he was in office.

    Palin as President, not a chance, Obambi, same deal, but you sheep selected, elected and protected this fraud of an empty suit.

    Can't wait for the uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh moving van in 2012.

    January 23, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. TRUTH

    Scalia and the other conservatives of the Supreme Court have made any of this irrelevant. The strength of the dollar of the company will dictate our laws and candidates. We are in a position where we are valued economically and corporations have the same voice as individuals but with no campaign laws. The reform we once had has been thrown out by the court. We better get an amendment in place or we will already be a fascist state by definition. This usually isn’t good for all the people in the state.

    January 23, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. lieNoMore

    Great whenever change is upon us we become susceptible to fear and lies. Brown is a terrible choice and only won because Coakley was so pathetic. People are angry but that is not an excuse for stupid, we made this same mistake in 1980 by electing dimwit Reagan out of anger and that stupidity has given us most of the energy and terrorism problems we have today.

    January 23, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Dem-in-MI

    Narrowly defeated? Come on Mr. Steinhauser, Brown won by over 100,000 votes, 52 to 47 percent. That's hardly a narrow win. Characterizing the results as such only lends credence to accusations that media leans "left" in its reporting.

    January 23, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. Pat Cecere

    You just can't help yourself, can you? Calling a 5 point margin of victory a narrow win. Go ahead, keep putting a your lefty spin on everything just as though we can't see through it. November can't get here soon enough for me (and a whole lot of other voters who are equally fed up). Happy spinning!

    January 23, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. Jim from Seattle

    It's just too easy to persuade the average ignorant voter..
    With a barrage of untruths blarred 24/7 by liars like Limbaugh to the newspapers beholden to advertisers to tell them what to print, the cerebrally challenged misunderstand that the current economic condition is not the doing of the Dems, but completely the fault of the GOP.

    Greenspan said we were in the grips of a freefall into the worst recession in over 100 yrs (he said that while GW Bush was still in office). It takes years to dig out of such a hole. But you listen to the average GOP ignoramus and they'll blame Obama and co.

    Monkey see, monkey do. Big oil or whoever benefits by GOP dominance, buys the air time for spewing lies... which leads to the election of Mr. Brown. What a mess.

    January 23, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Derron Johns

    "Narrowly?"...LOL...not quite.

    January 23, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. Squigman

    Well ! well!! The retardlicans, got themselves a pretty boy. The silver spoon syndrome marches on..

    January 23, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. Dan Holiday

    The democrats better get used to this. There WILL be more to come. Bet on it.

    January 23, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. irvonator

    Go Scott Go!!! Get the rest in NOV

    January 23, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. chesapeakephil

    as long as "she who will not be named" and rush limbaugh are considered leaders of the republican party the democrats have nothing to worry about. scott brown is obviously ashamed to be republican, as he should be, otherwise he would not have hidden his allegiance to the party. he should have run as an independant, not a closet republican. the only thing he was upfront about was being a hypocrite.

    January 23, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  24. Up is DOwn

    How quickly they forget how we got here in the first place.

    January 23, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. rob

    am in Texas watching. in the days leading up to the election, i was hoping that folks in Mass. would revolt! And revolt they did. I voted for Obama and feel as though I have been deceived by him. I was hopeful but the backroom deals is the same o' same o....

    January 23, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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