Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Takeaways from Massachusetts

At Public Policy Polling we are very proud of the surveys we did in Massachusetts. We first showed Scott Brown in the lead on Saturday, January 9th, 5 days before any other public poll was released showing him with the advantage. And it appears our final poll released this Sunday night will have nailed the final outcome almost perfectly.

Here are my biggest takeaways from tonight's results:

-This was a repudiation of Barack Obama. Certainly Martha Coakley was a bad candidate and ran a terrible campaign but that doesn't change the fact that we found Obama's approval rating at only 44% with the electorate for today's contest, a huge drop from the 62% of the vote he won in the state in 2008. Brown won over 20% of the vote from people who cast ballots for Obama in 2008, and we found that most of those Brown/Obama voters were folks who no longer approve of the job the President is doing. And in one of the bluest states in the country barely 40% of voters expressed support for the Democratic health care bill.

-Republicans win when they nominate mainstream candidates. Among voters who thought that Scott Brown was either a liberal or a moderate, he won 79-18. Among voters who thought that he was a conservative Coakley won 63-32. There are certain places where the GOP can get away with running far right candidates but they aren't the places where they're going to need to win to get the House back this fall and the White House back in 2012. Brown didn't come across as an ideological extremist and that helped him win over a lot of people who never would have voted for John McCain or George W. Bush- and sure won't vote for Sarah Palin.

-Voters hate both parties right now and that's to the GOP's advantage. One of the most remarkable things about Brown's victory is that it comes even though only 22% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Congressional Republicans, with 63% viewing them unfavorably. He was able to overcome that because almost 20% of voters held a negative opinion of both Congressional Democrats and Congressional Republicans. And with those folks Brown had a 72-24 advantage over Coakley, reflecting the reality that in a time when voters are disgusted with all politicians they'll vote for the one that's out of power.

Things could turn around for the Democrats between now and November but it's hard to dispute the notion that this could be 1994 all over again.

18 comments:

Timothy said...

Congratulations on your polling in this race! What an upset this election is!

Anonymous said...

Good job, guys. You nailed the result- Brown by 5. I knew it was over when your poll came out on sunday night. Democrats will have to get independents back on the ship if they want to survive 2010 midterms.

Anonymous said...

Kudos -- you're really developing a good track record. Maybe you should tear off your partisan hat and become a fulltime non-partisan pollster. Rasmussen has gone down a notch by punting on making a final call.

Dave said...

Good job. I count Brown winning at least five CDs, including a 30 point win in 10. You may need to poll Mass House races.

mmb said...

Congrats on being an amazing polling firm, it's been a joy to follow your polls.

Jonathan said...

Your poll 51-46, actual result 52-47. I'll never doubt you again. (We'll just call NY-23 your one fluke. Never release incomplete surveys, eh?)

Steve said...

Another triumph for IVR, and for your analysis. The margin does seem close enough that a better candidate- one who showed independence, personality, spine-- could have won the election by winning over more of those people who voted for Obama but don't like the job he's been doing. Coakley gave Obama disapprovers absolutely zero reason to send her to DC, and some Obama approvers who voted in 2008 (especially low-income ones and non-English speakers) stayed home. On the other hand, these numbers suggest that even a competent Dem would lose an open-seat race anywhere except Massachusetts and maybe Rhode Island or Maryland. Can Dems do anything now, in your view, to prevent another 1994? Or (as seems likely) is it just the economy (worse now than it was then)?

Anonymous said...

You guys rock! I swore by your polls and trusted your work., and you nailed it perfectly Ras definitely went down a notch with their dithering.

- A GOP poll watcher impressed with your professionalism

Stephen C. Rose said...

Here's my takeaway. Scott Brown mainstream? Gloat away.

http://stephencrose.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/reconciliation-may-well-happen-after-all/

Eve said...

Brown is not a mainstream candidate, to describe him here as such just further perpetuates that myth. He is an anti-choice, anti-gay bigot who ran a good campaign by cleverly deceiving the voters that he was a right wing nut job.

But I suspect he won't last long. I suspect we'll take back our state in 2012, and he won't be able to do TOO much damage before then. He is, after all, only one vote and the Dems still have the largest majority since 1979.

Anonymous said...

Any info on why Mass voters don't like Health Care Bill?

Damian said...

The GOP should indeed nominate mainstream candidates - for their respective States. Scott Brown could not have won a primary in a conservative or swing State, but he was a perfect fit for a place like Massachusetts. He was able to capitalise on liberal lethargy as well as strike a balance between conservative ideology (taxes, health care, opposition to late-term abortion) and putting forth more moderate stances (accepting Roe v. Wade and same-sex marriage in Massachusetts as settled law).

Anonymous said...

Annonymous asked the right question - Any info on why Massachusetts voters do not like the health bill? I have heard from many how the health bill will hurt this country but when I ask for specifics I get zero or some knee jerk answer. One said that it is not good because Hillary had proposed a similar bill when her husband was President. Is this the best people can do. I will bet that a majority of those who voted for Brown and claim to dislike the healthcare bill know very little or nothing at all about what is contained in the bill. My bet is that they simply did not like Coakley. Many people voted for McCain because they did not like Obama. Why? Take your pick.

Michael (mbw) said...

Good polling of the race, as usual, but your analysis conflates opposition to the HCR bill from the left and from the right. Even nationally, a significant fraction is from the left, and that's even more true in MA. Thus this conflation seriously mis-estimates the center of the national opinion on the issue.

platanoman said...

I disagree with you that this is a repudiation on Obama. Unless you poll on that, then you can't say that

David said...

I guess your firm does a good job of measuring how likely it is that someone will show up and vote. Some of the polling firms such as the NY Times polling firm just do not do a good job with that aspect of polling.

I think Coakley and the Dems severely underestimated the challenge of getting elected.
Until Rasmussen came out with a poll that showed the race within nine points, nobody paid attention to this race. Scott Brown really hadn't raised a lot of funds until the last 2 weeeks before the election.

I think what really hurt Coakley in the last 2 weeks was the fight over the health care bill. When the administration decided to exempt labor unions from the tax on insurance plans, that was probably the straw that broke the Coakley's back.

livfreeordi said...

Eve said...
Brown is not a mainstream candidate, to describe him here as such just further perpetuates that myth. He is an anti-choice, anti-gay bigot who ran a good campaign by cleverly deceiving the voters that he was a right wing nut job.
-----------------------------------

You have some misconceptions.

Brown may be against partial birth abortion..but that places him clearly in the mainstream of Amercian opinion if polls are any indicator. He IS, however, pro-choice, while not being an enthusiast for abortion, and isn't in favor of a law to overturn Roe versus Wade, despite your incorrect assumptions, and stressed that fact again this week.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/onpolitics/post/2010/01/a-scott-brown-republican-is-pro-choice-anti-tax/1

On the issue of gay rights..Brown doesn't seem pro or anti.. but merely thinks that it's an issue to be decided by states rather than the federal government.

Except to hard core social conservatives, the issue of abortion apparently doesn't matter much to Brown, as it doesn't to most economic and libertarian conservatives.. a category in which he obviously falls.

livfreeordi said...

By the way.. although you are obviously a polling firm with an obvious Democratic bent, as witnessed by comments which show concern for and some cheerleading for Democratic candidates... I commend you on your professionalism.

As far as I can see, so far, you haven't let your sympathies affect the objectivity of your polling by playing games with the polling weighting or the manner in which you word your polling questions.

Some polls, like the NY Times' polls seem to have forgotten that.

Keep this up and you will continue to do yourselves credit by the accuracy of your polling results.

 
Web Statistics