U.S. Sen. Scott Brown remains virtually untouchable in matchups against all but one potential Democratic challenger – former Congressman Joe Kennedy, who comes closest to catching Brown but has said that he will not run, according to the latest Suffolk University/7NEWS poll.
Brown came from obscurity 15 months ago to capture the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy, and, since leaving for Washington, the junior senator has handily maintained his popularity.
More than half (55 percent) of Bay State voters said that Brown deserves to be reelected, and 56 percent said they agreed that Brown has kept his promise to be an independent voice in the U.S. Senate.
“Brown is beating all expectations,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “His popularity hasn’t diminished as most expected, and at this point in time he’s going to be tough to beat.”
In the most recent Suffolk University/7NEWS poll, Brown led by at least 15 points in all matchups against potential Democratic challengers, with the exception of Joe Kennedy, who trailed by 5 points (Brown 45 percent, Kennedy 40 percent).
“What is significant about Joe Kennedy here isn’t just his popularity, but the dip in Scott Brown’s number,” said Paleologos. “Historically, when an incumbent takes less than 50 percent against an opponent, that means that he or she is vulnerable – and with Kennedy’s matching favorability rating (Brown 58 percent, Kennedy 58 percent) it’s clear the unwilling Democratic front-runner would be a strong potential challenger.”
Sky-high approval for Hillary Clinton
President Barack Obama’s handling of the situation in Libya was approved by 51 percent of voters; 32 percent disapproved.
While Obama is still personally popular in Massachusetts, recording a 57 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable rating, Hillary Clinton lit up the favorability list of politicians with a 74 percent favorable rating and a 19 percent unfavorable rating. This is a continuing trend previously seen in state polls taken by Suffolk University in 2010, where Clinton led Obama in favorability by at least 10 points in Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Health care and Mitt Romney
Massachusetts health care was seen as working by 38 percent of registered voters, while just under half (49 percent) said it is not working, and 13 percent were undecided. Asked if Mitt Romney’s role in health care here would help or hurt his presidential campaign, 54 percent of voters said it would hurt; 22 percent felt it would help; and 22 percent were undecided.
“Health care continues to define Mitt Romney and weigh down his presidential campaign like an iron stethoscope,” said Paleologos.
Politicians and book tours
Despite his popularity, voters were not interested in Brown’s book or life story. Three percent of voters said they bought Brown’s recently released book Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances, while 97 percent had not. And 67 percent said they were not very/not at all interested in Brown’s life story. Similarly, 65 percent of registered voters said that they were not very/not at all interested in the life story of Gov. Deval Patrick, whose autobiography will be released next week.
“Voters are saying that they want their politicians to do the job they were elected to do here in Massachusetts and aren’t interested in their books or life stories,” said Paleologos.
In January 2010, the Suffolk University poll for the special election for U.S. Senate was the first poll in the country using live interviewers showing Scott Brown leading -- by 4 points -- four days before the election. Brown won by 5 points. In November 2010, a Suffolk University poll predicted a 7-point win for Democrat Deval Patrick over Republican Charlie Baker in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, with all other polls showing a much closer margin. Patrick won by 6.4 percent.
The statewide survey of 500 Massachusetts likely voters was conducted April 3-5, 2011. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data will be posted at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday April 6, on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter for daily updates: @DavidPaleologos.