January 23rd, 2010
04:45 PM ET
10 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.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

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

    Obama talking about the people don't understand this Health care bill. The congress is the ones that have the special interests groups and lobbyist in their pockets.This all about the insurance and the Drug company's making big money here.With no competition. The US government collecting billions before it even goes in affect. Congressmen selling their vote. I don't think this bunch will wake up. It looks like the people have.Keep voting them in and out until they do get it right.

    January 23, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    That's OK, Obama thinks he just needs to give more speeches to explain his policies. I guess the 400+ speeches his first year weren't enough. Barry, wake up, it's not your words that are the problem, it's your actions or lack thereof. You can't do nada for a year and expect people who wanted change to still be there worshipping. Pretty funny that the messiah has become the goat.

    January 23, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. David

    Author Paul Steinhauser says "Brown narrowly defeated state attorney general Martha Coakly..." This was not a narow defeat. This was an ass whipping.

    January 23, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. M Frost Atlanta

    Could it be? That the Tea Party folks really aren't the "lunatic fringe" to be easily dismissed as the President did? Could it be that more reasonable minds are finally taking this Country back after this disasterous "try something new" experience? Could it be that the average American, doing the simplest addition and subtraction, realizes that this Administration and Congress absolute cannot continue spending money we don't have? Well, as it does, the pendulum has swung too far left and we are on our way back to the "center right," the position that is the foundation of the success of this Country. Indeed, everything else is the "lunatic fringe" that ought to be dismissed, or at the very least, largely ignored.

    I know. Many will say Obama failed because "it was a mass conspiracy." This position will be championed by the "everything wrong in my life is someone else's fault" crowd. Truth is that he is failing because he is unable to comprehend the essence of what made (makes) this Country great: personal responsibility, freedom, initiative, hard work, self-reliance, and the compassion to give a "hand up" when needed. (Not a "hand-out" to everyone who feels they are entitled.)

    Yes, Obama has already failed. The next three years are going to be tough. We deserve who we elect, so we'll have to tough it out. And just think. If Bush hadn't screwed things up so badly, we wouldn't have made this "hail Mary" disasterous attempt at hope.

    January 23, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. gg

    have to admit, I don't live in Mass but I'm kinda frustrated with Obama and the Dems. We shouldn't tax health insurance or require all people to have it. I didn't like any government or public option either. I don't like the deficit spending (Bush was terrible, Obama worse). I think we should keep Gitmo open and try terrorist in military courts not NYC...so many bad things last year. We were promised "change" but what we got was the same old politics. I hope that Obama moves to the center a bit and works with Republicans a bit.

    January 23, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  6. pam

    who cares about that man he does'nt have any power except what those people gave him in boston

    January 23, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Ed

    Who needs a poll to state this fact? We are mad as hell and are going to clean the House and Senate of those who did not listed to the people. The DemocRATS need to start seeking employment elsewhere.

    January 23, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. spokanebob

    it was a landslide.

    January 23, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Reality Matters

    Read the poll results! This summary distorts the poll findings and once again simply follows the win/lose media hype that has little relevance.

    A key finding: MA residents like their health plan that covers 97% of the people. Others have noted that the MA plan is similar to the Senate bill passed in December!

    Another finding was that voters expect Senator-elect Brown to work with Democrats to achieve bipartisan legislation. The poll specifically found that voters reject Congressional Republicans' NO attitude even more than they are unhappy with Democratic actions...results that are consistent with many other recent polls.

    Also, President Obama is viewed very favorably by MA residents, and even among Brown voters 1/3 approve of Obama as well as more than half said Obama was not a factor in their vote. So stop the media hyperventilating about Obama's demise.

    Finally, other polling has shown that if Democrats had been more active in get-out-the-vote efforts before this special election they likely would have won since Brown did not win by a blow-out.

    Facts matter. Our democracy is too often being driven by false assumptions, lies and distortions, incomplete analysis, and pandering for dramatic effect. Enough!

    January 23, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. Steve in Kentucky

    And if CNN and False News keep up the distortions of the Democrats' agenda maybe even more people will oppose the distorted agenda. Of course, if these two disinformation networks actually pointed out LIES coming from the Rethuglicans, maybe support for the thugs would decrease. But CNN is only interested in running down the Dems, aren't you?

    January 23, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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