Massachusetts Senate race hinges on independent vote
Massachusetts is one of the most Democratic states in the country. But moderate Republicans have done well there too over the years, and independent voters are likely to make the difference in the special US Senate race.
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“The majority of registered voters now are independents,” says David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston, which conducted Thursday’s poll. “Despite the fact that they are people who say … they don’t want to be tied to one party, independents have emerged as the political party in Massachusetts now. It’s really about the independent voter.”Skip to next paragraph
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Most independents favor Brown
Suffolk’s poll shows 65 percent of voters who identify themselves as independent favor Brown.
Brown has been more proactive in going after independent voters, addressing issues like family, security, and regional concerns, which are typically hot button issues for independents.
“I am running in the name of all independent-thinking citizens, whether they are Democrats, Republicans, or unenrolled, to take on one-party rule,” Brown wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed column published Friday.
His focus on homeland security, in particular, is “a perfect issue to lead with” to attract independent voters, says Stewart.
Coakley sticks with Democratic base
In contrast, Coakley has stuck close to her Democratic base, focusing on abortion rights, healthcare reform, and, more recently, the economy.
“Scott Brown says it’s okay that CEOs can line their pockets and forget about what taxpayers did last year,” Coakley told the crowd at a campaign rally with former President Bill Clinton Friday. “Scott Brown will fight for the wealthy and for Wall Street, and I’m going to fight for you.”
In fact, Coakley’s support of the healthcare reform bill might hurt her with independents, 56 percent of whom oppose the proposed national legislation.
Still, while independents may prefer Brown, they are also historically much less likely to turn out to vote.
“They’re half the electorate, but they’re not half the voting power,” says Stewart. “The great middle is tending toward Brown, so then the question is who turns out.”
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