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MA-Sen: Could Coakley Lose?

January 6th, 2010, 04:01 am admin Leave a comment Go to comments

Rasmussen is out with a new poll and certainly wants us to think Martha Coakley could lose the special election to be held in Massachusetts on January 19.

Rasmussen. 1/4/10. Likely voters. MoE 4.5%.

Martha Coakley (D) 50%
Scott Brown (R) 41%


Special elections are typically decided by who shows up to vote and it is clear from the data that Brown’s supporters are more enthusiastic. In fact, among those who are absolutely certain they will vote, Brown pulls to within two points of Coakley.

Of course, this is Rasmussen. Their election polling is generally more reliable than their issues polling, but in a special election poll, the likely voter screen is crucial. And what do you know, Nate Silver finds reasons to be skeptical of the sample.

PPP gamed out some possible scenarios in advance of this poll:

I thought it would be worth taking a look at what would happen if things played out in Masschusetts similarly to Virginia, which is a sort of Democratic worst case scenario.

The Virginia exit poll showed the folks who turned out there voted for John McCain by an eight point margin, in contrast to the actual six point victory in the state for Barack Obama.  A similar 14 point drop on the Obama margin in Massachusetts would mean the people who come out for the Senate election voted for him by a 56-44 margin.

In Virginia Creigh Deeds won 88% of the Obama vote and Bob McDonnell won 95% of the McCain vote.  Give those percentages to Martha Coakley and Scott Brown and you have Coakley at 51.5% and Brown at 48.5%.  

In other words, given available polling, informed critiques of said polling, and a worst case scenario look at voting history, it’s really unlikely Coakley loses this one. In fact, since Rasmussen shows her up by nine points while losing independents 65% to 21% (improbable, by the way), astoundingly low turnout by Democrats is the only real path to victory for Scott Brown.

Republicans are engaged in some epic spinning and not a little crowing about this poll. But really, it’s probably bad news for them — with complacency the main danger for Coakley, this poll should get Massachusetts Democrats paying attention and making plans for a strong GOTV effort.

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