January 14, 2010

Poll shocker: Scott Brown surges ahead in Senate race

Poll shocker: Scott Brown surges ahead in Senate race

Riding a wave of opposition to Democratic health-care reform, GOP upstart
Scott Brown is leading in the U.S. Senate race, raising the odds of a historic
upset that would reverberate all the way to the White House, a new poll

Although Brown’s 4-point lead over Democrat Martha Coakley is within the
Suffolk University/7News survey’s margin of error, the underdog’s position at
the top of the results stunned even pollster David Paleologos.

“It’s a Brown-out,” said Paleologos, director of Suffolk’s Political Research
Center. “It’s a massive change in the political landscape.”

The poll shows Brown, a state senator from Wrentham, besting Coakley, the
state’s attorney general, by 50 percent to 46 percent, the first major survey to
show Brown in the lead. Unenrolled long-shot Joseph L. Kennedy, an
information technology executive with no relation to the famous family, gets 3
percent of the vote. Only 1 percent of voters were undecided.

Paleologos said bellweather models show high numbers of independent voters
turning out on election day, which benefits Brown, who has 65 percent of that
bloc compared to Coakley’s 30 percent. Kennedy earns just 3 percent of the independent vote, and 1 percent are undecided.
Given the 4.4-point margin of error, the poll shows Coakley could win the race, Paleologos said. But if Brown’s momentum holds, he
is poised to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy - and to halt health-care reform, the issue the late senator dubbed “the cause
of my life.”

Yet even in the bluest state, it appears Kennedy’s quest for universal health care has fallen out of favor, with 51 percent of voters
saying they oppose the “national near-universal health-care package” and 61 percent saying they believe the government cannot
afford to pay for it.

The poll, conducted Monday through Wednesday, surveyed 500 registered likely voters who knew the date of Tuesday’s election. It
shows Brown leading all regions of the state except Suffolk County.

“Either Brown’s momentum accelerates and his lead widens, or this becomes a wake-up call for Coakley to become the ‘Comeback
Kid’ this weekend,” Paleologos said.

And with 99 percent having made up their minds, voters may be hard to persuade.
The poll surveyed a carefully partitioned electorate meant to match voter turnout: 39 percent Democrat, 15 percent Republican and 45
percent unenrolled.

Brown wins among men and is remarkably competitive among women - trailing Coakley’s 50 percent with 45 percent.
While Brown has 91 percent of registered Republicans locked up, an astonishing 17 percent of Democrats report they’re jumping ship
for Brown as well - likely a product of Coakley’s laser-focus on hard-core Dems, potentially at the exclusion of other Democrats whom
she needed to win over, Paleologos said.

For Coakley, Brown’s surge may be as ominous as the fact that her campaign’s peril is not fully recognized, with 64 percent of voters
still believing she’ll win - a perception that threatens to keep her supporters home.
Brown’s popularity is solid. He enjoys a 57 percent favorability rating compared to just 19 percent unfavorable. Coakley’s favorability
is 49 percent; her unfavorability, 41 percent.

No longer does Brown suffer from a name-recognition problem, with 95 percent of voters having heard of him statewide.
7News Political Editor Andy Hiller said, “Voters obviously think Brown is running a better campaign than Coakley. For months, it has
been Coakley’s race to lose, and now in the last days that’s exactly what she may be doing.”
Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1225720

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