The Massachusetts’ special U.S. Senate election has gotten tighter, but the general dynamics remain the same.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley attracting 49 percent of the vote while her Republican rival, state Sen. Scott Brown, picks up 47 percent.
Three percent (3 percent) say they’ll vote for independent candidate Joe Kennedy, and two percent (2 percent) are undecided. The independent is no relation to the late Edward M. Kennedy, whose Senate seat the candidates are battling to fill in next Tuesday's election.
Coakley is supported by 77 percent of Democrats while Brown picks up the vote from 88 percent of Republicans. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, Brown leads 71 percent to 23 percent. To be clear, this lead is among unaffiliated voters who are likely to participate in the special election.
A week ago, the overall results showed Coakley leading by a 50 percent to 41 percent margin. The closeness of the race in heavily Democratic Massachusetts has drawn increasing national interest, and Brown made it clear in the final candidate debate last night that a vote for him is a vote to stop the national healthcare plan Democrats are pushing in Congress.
The results of this poll are not precisely comparable with last week’s results because this poll includes the independent candidate by name while the previous poll simply offered the choice of “some other candidate." Additionally, the latest poll results include “leaners.”
Leaners are those who don’t initially have a preference for one of the major candidates but indicate that they are leaning in that direction. Without “leaners,” Brown was actually ahead by a single percentage point.
All recent polls place Coakley right around the 50 percent mark and support for opposition candidates above 40 percent. Turnout will be the key, and Brown’s voters appear to be more energized.
All polling indicates that a lower turnout is better for the Republican. The new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that Brown is ahead by two percentage points among those who are absolutely certain they will vote. A week ago, he trailed by two among those certain to vote.
To overcome the enthusiasm gap and help generate a larger turnout, national Democrats are getting involved in the race. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is reportedly spending more than half a million dollars in the final days of a campaign that Coakley has long been the heavy favorite to win. Senator John Kerry in an emergency fundraising letter for Coakley today says the race is "a dead heat," and he and former President Bill Clinton plan to campaign in the state on Friday.
Brown raised more than $1 million on Monday and appears to have narrowed the financial gap so far. Coakley has gone negative in the second television ad of her campaign, one that includes Brown in front of a picture of conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh. She also sought to link Brown to former President George W. Bush during the debate.
Fifty-nine percent (59 percent) of likely voters in Massachusetts have a favorable opinion of Brown, and 58 percent say the same about Coakley.
Fifty-nine percent (59 percent) of voters think Coakley will win the election, while 33 percent expect a victory for Brown.
Coakley, who was elected attorney general in 2006, defeated several other candidates to win her party’s nomination in a Dec. 8 primary. Brown, who has served in the State Senate since 2004, won the GOP primary the same day.
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