26 January 2010

The Message from Massachusetts

This comes from the analysis of last week’s special Senate election in Massachusetts by Daniel Larison at the American Conservative (as pointed to by Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish):

It is clear that two-thirds of Brown’s voters wished to express their opposition to the Democrats’ agenda, which is to say that pretty much everyone who did not vote for Obama in 2008 does not support Obama’s agenda and wanted to express their opposition to it. I think we knew that before Tuesday.

Over a third of Brown’s voters (37%) were dissatisfied or even angry with Congressional Republican policies, which is what you might expect when almost that many of Brown’s voters approve of Obama’s performance and the Congressional GOP is dedicated to thwarting Obama in everything he does.

Looking at what Brown’s voters want him to do with respect to health care, we see that they are divided right down the middle: 50% (47% strongly) do want Brown to work to halt Democratic health care efforts, and 48% (40% strongly) want him to work with Democrats to make changes to their proposals. Half of Brown’s voters want him to sink Obama’s agenda, full stop, and approximately half of them want him to collaborate with Democrats. That is what we might call a mixed message.

Looking at Brown voters’ opposition to the health care bill itself, we see that two-thirds of them strongly oppose the bill, which is consistent with what we saw earlier, 14% “somewhat oppose” it and 13% actually support it.
These comments are based on the first post-election poll (PDF), commissioned by the Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard.

In regard to the dimension of gender, which I wrote about back here, this survey found that women voted for Coakley 51% to 48% and men voted for Brown 56% to 42%.

Voters choosing by candidates’ positions were evenly split, within the margin of error. Voters choosing by the candidates’ personal qualities (i.e., public images) went for Brown 57% to 41%. I remain sadly convinced that “The electorate didn't so much hire a Senator based on policy ideas and competence as cast someone to play the Senator we'd like to see on TV.”

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