Brown supporters focused most on pocketbook issues, Coakley supporters on healthcare reform, undecided voters split
A poll conducted by the Merriman River Group (MRG) and InsideMedford.com indicates that Scott Brown leads Martha Coakley 50.8% – 41.2% in the contest to fill the seat of the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Liberty Party candidate Joe Kennedy pulls in just 1.8% support, while 6.2% of voters are still not sure. Brown and Coakley both have most of their supporters locked in. 98% of both candidate’s supporters say they are definitely or probably going to vote for their candidate. In contrast, 22% of Kennedy’s supporters are just leaning toward him, suggesting that Brown and Coakley may both want to take aim at swaying those voters.
Not surprisingly, nearly all of Coakley’s supporters approve of President Obama’s job performance, while three-quarters of Brown’s supporters disapprove. Coakley may see a glimmer of hope in the fact that more than two-thirds of undecided voters approve of the president’s job performance while only 6% disapprove, especially in light of the president’s swing through the state to campaign for her later today.
47% of Brown’s supporters say that taxes, jobs, and the economy represent the most important issue to them in this race, while half of Coakley’s supporters say that healthcare reform is most important to them. Undecided voters are nearly evenly split between the two issues—40% say they’re most concerned with taxes, jobs, and the economy with 37% saying that healthcare reform that most concerns them. “For Coakley to have a chance, she needs to convince voters that the Democratic party’s agenda for the economy is the right one, and she needs to do it fast,” said MRG’s executive director, Matt Fitch.
The recent dust-up between the candidates over abortion laws seems to have had minimal impact on the race. Only 8% of Brown’s supporters and 5% of Coakley’s supporters say it’s the most important issue to them.
The endorsement in Medford on January 7 of Martha Coakley by members of Senator Ted Kennedy’s family appears to have had little effect on most voters and to have backfired with others. 55% said that it was not important to them, but 27% said it made them less likely to vote for Coakley, while only 18% said it made them more likely to vote for her. As for undecided voters, more than two-thirds said the endorsement was not important. “The Kennedy family endorsement seems to have hurt more than it helped Coakley, despite the popularity of the Kennedys in the state and in Medford,” said Allison Goldsberry, Editor of InsideMedford.com.
What seems to tip the race in Brown’s favor most is his popularity among Moderates, Independents, and men, and Coakley’s lack of an advantage among women. Brown nearly doubles Coakley’s total among Moderates, 62% – 32%, and has an even bigger margin among Independents, 64% – 26%. There’s also a one-way gender effect that favors Brown, who holds a nearly two-to-one lead over Coakley among men while women are split evenly between the two candidates. Brown does best among white voters, while Coakley leads among non-whites, suggesting that minority turnout may play a crucial role on election day. Brown is also leading among all age groups.
MRG surveyed 565 likely voters between 5:00 P.M. and 8:45 P.M. on January 15, 2010 using touch-tone polling technology. The margin of error is +/– 4.1%. Some columns do not sum to 100% due to rounding.
Merriman River Group, founded in 1998, is a full service consulting organization specializing in election management, opinion research and communication. In 2008 and 2009, MRG provided nationally representative telephone survey data for the for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership’s annual National Leadership Index: A National Study of Confidence in Leadership.
InsideMedford.com is Medford’s first and only exclusively online news source. It was founded in 2007 by Allison Goldsberry, a former newspaper reporter and T.V. journalist.
For interviews, please contact Allison Goldsberry at (781) 526-1997.
For questions about the poll, please contact Matt Fitch at (203) 675-8322 or Seth Rosenthal at (781) 704-1223.