Evidence Scott Brown is Within Single Digits in Massachusetts

My initial post on Scott Brown drew a pretty good reaction, and this response from Michael Barone is a must-read. Barone argues if Republicans are able to seriously contest Massachusetts, and in a race where Democrats are the heavy sentimental favorites after the passing of Ted Kennedy, that could have a kind of terrorism effect on wobbly House Democrats that will force many more to retire, and inspire strong Republican candidates to jump into the race in blue districts. This could set the stage in a very nice way for November. 

Absent a scientific poll of the race, two recent bits of analysis suggest we may be headed for a close race on January 19th. 

The first is the "citizens' poll" being undertaken by Republican activists frustrated by the lack of recent polling. This shows Scott Brown ahead, and the methodology consists of randomly scouring the phone book in select areas. From the photo below, it's a hearty effort, but definitely homegrown: 

The results through New Year's Eve were Brown 241, Coakley 216, Undecided 63. A further 201 refused and 213 were left pro-Brown phone messages. That works out to a slight Brown lead of 44.6 to 41.5 percent among those who responded. 

But that comes with a big caveat: the areas polled were limited to Worchester and Cape Cod, with a little Quincy thrown in. These areas do not look like the rest of Massachusetts. In both Worchester and Barnstable (Cape Cod) counties, Obama defeated McCain by a margin of 56 to 42, or a margin 12 points lower than his statewide performance.  

Adjust the margin, and this would put Coakley 9 points ahead statewide. 

As a point in Brown's favor, there's no attempt made to screen voters in the survey. Essentially, it's a poll of adults, not registered voters, or even likely voters. In this environment, I imagine a likely voter screen would help Brown to the tune of about 5 points. Anecdotal information from their responses also suggests Brown voters are way more fired up about turning out: 

Many Brown supporters were enthusiastic and upbeat. Statements included: "What other choice is there 'but' Scott Brown?; "There's a lot riding on this"; "Our country is at stake."; and "God help us if we don't get Scott Brown elected."

To the contrary, Coakley voters seemed down, dull, and disenganged. Is it any wonder not one Coakley voter expressed optimism.

 This is valuable information. I wonder what such a poll done of 3-of-5 or better voters on the statewide voter file would yield. 

A second attempt to fill the void comes from RCP's Sean Trende, who looks at the composition of the electorate in Virginia and New Jersey compared to 2008, as well as the vote swing from Obama to McDonnell and Christie. If Democrats, Republicans, and Independents swing to the Republican Brown as they swung to Republican gubernatorial candidates in both states, that would make for an exceedingly narrow Coakley win of 51.1 to 48.9 percent. Though we are accustomed to thinking of Virginia and New Jersey as two distinct races, interestingly the final numbers suggest a rising tide lifting all Republican boats. In terms of vote spread, McDonnell performed 24 points better than McCain, and Christie performed 22 points better. A similar swing in Massachusetts would get Brown to within 2 to 4. 

I don't know that there is a scenario that would show Scott Brown ahead right now, but there are plenty of scenarios I could see that would show this within the margin. And conditions right now seem optimal: a fired up Republican / Tea Party base that is stirring beneath the surface, and a complacent Democratic Party. The question is what happens if a poll does show the race close? The campaign would then take on a whole new dimension. Will the entire electorate expand in a way that would likely benefit Coakley? Democrats will pull out the stops to nationalize the race, and would play the Kennedy card as they have so many times before. But without a Presidential race on the ballot, which is typically the only thing that can create downballot coattails, will it work? Is there a way that a close race could pull in more marginal Republican voters excited about the possibility about picking up a seat in Massachusetts without bringing out more Democrats, enough to close a 3 point gap? We'll know in 18 days. 

Full disclosure: As discussed in my previous post, my company provides some online services to the Brown campaign, but we're not involved in the campaign day to day. 

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Comments

Larry the Cable Guy makes a few calls to names that sound right

from his local phone book and you consider that front-page worthy?

For someone who claims to be a political professional, this is astonishing.

Have just a tiny look at the source.

We looked for residences of couples.

Why? Because only couples are registered to vote in Massachusetts? By any chance was it also only couples with "real American" names?

A number of the respondents were almost suspicious, and reluctant to answer the question. Two respondents asked my husband, "whom are voting for?" Only after my husband answered 'Scott Brown' did they reveal that they, too, were voting for Brown.

Sharp intake of breath from anyone who knows anything about polling or psychology.

Unofficial data: Liberal women are nasty and short-tempered. We can begin to understand what part of the problem is with Massachusetts voters: female Dems.

Oh yes, that is a totally credible outfit you are relying on there.

The only thing this is "evidence" of is that The Next Right hast completely jumped the shark.

Slight correction

It's "Worcester," not "Worchester."  

Beyond that, interesting stuff.  Gonna be a wild next few weeks... 

Better evidence is out there

Extremely heavy AB activity reported in Barnstable County, one of the more Republican parts of the Commonwealth.

MASSIVELY Republican, STIRRING evidence.

17% of the voters in Barnstable County are Republican. No, I did not have a dyslexic moment just there - I mean to type 17%, not 71%. S-e-v-e-n-t-e-e-n. citation.

In this bastion of Republicanism, the "extremely heavy" absentee ballot activity adds up to 485 ballots.

I take it you didn't actually read the item that you linked to?

Congratulations - compared to what you are offering, Ruffini's post seems almost credible proof of a Brown wave.

You're about as dense as the out-of-state mortgage people...

Who would send a mortgage release for property in Danbury or New Canaan to the clerk in Fairfield, Conn. and wonder why it wasn't recorded on the land records

Hey, the mortgage said the property was in Fairfield County!  

Of course, the fact the "Town of Fairfield" was not co-terminous with "Fairfield County" was lost on these genius on the Left Coast.

So, since "John" you are as bright as the folks who ran WA MU and Countrywide into the drink, please be advised the "Town of Barnstable" (pop. 48,000)  is a subdivision of "Barnstable County" (pop. 225,000).  If the Town of Barnstable has already gotten hundreds of AB's back weeks before the election, one could reasonably assume thousands of AB's will eventually be cast county-wide.   

And given that Barnstable County delivered a 17 point margin for Mitt Romney and was one of the few places Deval Patrick failed to reach 50% in '06,  go ahead and tell yourself this is good news for the Democrats.

 

Two days in the New Year,

non sequitur responses from Ironman. Do you frequently get cleaned out playing poker? Because you are bad at math and you've got a blatant tell.

Barnstable County - 17% Republican. So your baseless "thousands of absentee ballots" adds up to what - 240 votes for Brown??

Oh yes - Barnstable County, +10% for Obama and for Kerry in 2008. But if you prefer your way-back machine, rock on.

Wishful Ironman exaggerates a town clerk's "feelings" ...

 

about the AB "surge" in the town of Barnstable:

Cape Cod Times says, "The spike is likely due to the timing of the election in January, when many Cape residents are spending the winter in warmer climates."

Town clerk Theresa says,  "It seems like people are a little more aware and a little more excited about voting this time."

 

So-called "polls" mean...

...very little if they don't include every name that will appear on the ballot. Since Joe Kennedy (I) will be there, I'm willing to bet that a large number of Dems - who, face it, aren't known for being very smart anyway - will think he's "their" Joe Kennedy and vote for him.

Same goes for polling. I'll bet a lot of them would say they're voting for him if they just heard his name.

Start over, folks, and do it right this time.

FiveThirtyEight on Mass Race

 Found a reference to Ruffini's post at 538:

Wicked Awesome Thoughts on Massachusetts Special Election

by Nate Silver