With the election only nine days away in what Politico is calling a possible “Massachusetts miracle,” the Republican candidate now has a strong chance of defeating his Democratic opponent in the race for Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate.
A poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP), a Democratic survey firm, shows Republican Scott Brown has overtaken Democrat Martha Coakley, and holds a 48 percent to 47 percent lead as the Jan. 19 special election approaches.
State Sen. Brown leads 63-to-31 percent among independents, and is winning 17 percent of the Democratic vote, while Attorney General Coakley receives only 6 percent support from Republican voters, according to the poll completed on Jan. 9.
The survey also found that 66 percent of Republicans are “very excited” about turning out to vote, while only 48 percent of Democrats feel that way.
“Brown is benefitting from depressed Democratic interest in the election and a huge lead among independents for his surprisingly strong standing,” PPP observed.
“Those planning to vote in the special election only report having voted for Barack Obama in 2008 by a 16-point margin, in contrast to his actual 26-point victory in the state. That decline in turnout from Obama voters plagued Democratic candidates for governor in Virginia and New Jersey last fall.”
The poll found that 57 percent view Brown favorably and 25 percent unfavorably, while 50 percent view Coakley favorably and 42 percent unfavorably.
Among the respondents who plan to vote in the special election, 47 percent oppose Obama’s healthcare reform plan, while 41 percent support it and 12 percent have no opinion. Only 44 percent approve of Obama’s job performance, 43 percent disapprove, and the rest are not sure.
“The Massachusetts Senate race is shaping up as a potential disaster for Democrats,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling.
“Martha Coakley’s complacent campaign has put Scott Brown in a surprisingly strong position and she will need to step it up in the final week to win a victory once thought inevitable.”
Brown entered the Massachusetts House in 1998, then joined the state Senate after a March 4, 2004 special election to replace Democrat Cheryl Jacques, who had resigned. He was re-elected in November of that year, and again in 2006 and 2008.
He supports a woman's right to choose, though he opposes partial-birth abortion and federal funding for abortion, according to The Washington Post. He opposes same-sex marriage but believes the decision should be left to states.
On fiscal matters, he favors tax cuts, opposes the current government expansion and would oppose a second stimulus bill. He has criticized Obama for being "too slow" in responding to the Christmas Day bomber and thinks we should treat terrorists as war criminals, trying them in military courts.
Coakley joined the District Attorney’s office in Lowell, Mass., in 1986, and won an election in 2006 to become Massachusetts’ first woman Attorney General.
In July 2009, she filed a lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, arguing that it limits states’ efforts to recognize same-sex marriage.
“Brown in his ads and media appearances comes across as likeable, independent and knowledgeable and as a person of convictions,” Michael Barone wrote in the Washington Examiner.
“Coakley has been avoiding the campaign trail and two-candidate debates (she insists on a libertarian splinter candidate participating), and she tends to avoid giving firm answers on anything.”
But in the event Brown does pull off a surprising victory and become the 41st Republican elected to the Senate, Democrats have another trick up their sleeve to save their healthcare reform bill, according to the Boston Herald.
If Brown wins, Democratic Secretary of State William Galvin will delay certifying the race for 10 days or until February 20, the Herald reports. That would let Democrat Paul Kirk, appointed to fill Kennedy seat until the special election, cast a 60th vote for the healthcare bill.
Brown opposes the bill and has vowed to be the crucial 41st vote in the Senate that would block the legislation.
“Because it’s a federal election, we’d have to wait 10 days for absentee and military ballots to come in,” Galvin’s spokesman Brian McNiff said.
But in 2007, Galvin certified the special election victory of Democratic Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas within two days, in time for her to cast a vote to override George W. Bush’s veto of a Democratic children’s healthcare bill.
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