Rasmussen: Mass. Senate Race 'Stunning'

Friday, 15 Jan 2010 11:41 AM

By Jim Meyers

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Public opinion pollster Scott Rasmussen tells Newsmax that the race to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts has turned into a “stunning” competition, with Republican Scott Brown now running neck and neck with Democrat Martha Coakley just days before the election.

Rasmussen also said the healthcare and foreign policy issues are working in favor of state Sen. Brown, while Attorney General Coakley — once thought to be the sure winner — has run a lackluster campaign.

Rasmussen is founder and CEO of Rasmussen Reports and co-founder of the sports network ESPN. He has been an independent public opinion pollster for over a decade, and most major news organizations cite his reports.

To see the video of Newsmax's conversation with Rasmussen — Click Here.

Newsmax.TV’s Ashley Martella asked Rasmussen for his most recent poll results as the Jan. 19 special election approaches.

“Our latest poll was conducted Monday night and showed that Brown had pulled within two points of Coakley — Coakley 49 percent, Brown 47 percent,” Rasmussen said.

“A week earlier, Coakley held a nine-point lead. And of course last fall everyone assumed this race would not be worth talking about right now. I do have to admit I’m surprised we’re having this conversation.

“What it really comes down to is turnout. In our poll those who said they’re absolutely certain they’re going to show up and vote actually favor Brown by a couple of points. Every poll shows that a low turnout is good for Brown because the Republicans and conservatives are far more energized and enthusiastic about this race.”

Martella asked if the special election is at least partly a referendum on the Democrats’ healthcare reform plan.

“In Massachusetts, 52 percent of those who are likely to show up and vote do favor the plan proposed by the president and congressional Democrats,” Rasmussen responded. “That’s a far more supportive attitude than we see almost anywhere else in the country.

“But just like everywhere else, the people who feel strongly about the issue tend to oppose it — 37 percent of Massachusetts voters strongly oppose it, 30 percent are strongly in favor. That’s the issue that really helps Scott Brown get some traction.

“But I think the stunning point here is, nobody — especially in the Democratic Party and I doubt many Republicans — thought that a Massachusetts Senate race would become competitive because a Republican ran against healthcare reform for Teddy Kennedy’s old seat.”

Asked what he will be looking for in the coming days, Rasmussen replied: “We’re going to look to see which campaign team can do a better job getting their people out. Right now the Republicans are doing it.

“The second thing to look for is those independent voters. A lot of people in Massachusetts are registered as independents, and the independents who are interested in the race overwhelmingly are supporting Brown at this point in time.

“Every indication we have is that Brown has handled himself well, in the debates and other forums. He seems to have run a very successful campaign. A number of things are working for him. Healthcare is the issue that got him into the race. But there are other things working in his favor.

“Right now the questions about foreign policy are helping because people in Massachusetts are concerned about terror and other threats to our national security. Brown is better positioned on those.

“The other thing that is helping, quite frankly, the Coakley campaign didn’t think they had a campaign to run. They were very slow off the mark. Only in the last couple of weeks have they really begun trying to compete, and almost everything that could possibly go wrong for a campaign has gone wrong for the Coakley team, even spelling Massachusetts wrong in one of their television ads.”

Turning to Senate race in Nevada, Rasmussen said polls show Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in deep trouble in his re-election effort.

“In Nevada people do not want the healthcare reform bill to pass. Harry Reid’s job is to pass it,” Rasmussen told Newsmax. He added that if Reid can’t pass the bill he will lose the argument that he has clout in Washington, and if he can pass it “he angers most of his constituents.”

Rasmussen also disclosed:

• Right now 40 percent of voters nationwide favor the healthcare reform plan, while 55 percent are opposed. Only 19 percent strongly favor the plan and 45 percent are strongly opposed. Those numbers “haven’t changed much” since Thanksgiving.

• 51 percent of those polled still blame George W. Bush for the economic mess, and 41 percent blame President Obama.

• The 2010 elections will be a “toxic environment for Democrats.” The most vulnerable will be “freshmen Democratic congressmen and maybe some sophomores who are in districts that were won by John McCain.”

To see the video of Newsmax's conversation with Rasmussen — Click Here.

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