Looking Beyond Tomorrow’s Final Primaries


Last week we wrote about the Massachusetts 6th Congressional District Democratic primary where Rep. John Tierney faces a formidable opponent in ex-Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton. According to a new poll, the challenger has the critical momentum and is pulling to within three points of the congressman, holding him below 50 percent.

The Emerson College Polling Society (Sept. 2-4; 343 likely MA-6 Democratic primary voters) finds Rep. Tierney clinging to a 47-44 percent lead over Moulton, hardly a comforting margin for a nine-term incumbent. Clearly, the late trends are riding with Moulton; the only question is will they be enough to carry him over the political finish line tomorrow. The Society conducted two other polls of this race, one in April and the other in June. Tierney held leads in those studies of 64-11 percent and 59-17 percent, respectively.

The Emerson College Polling Society is comprised of a group of students at the named educational institution. They came to fame shortly after the 2013 Virginia governor’s race when all of the professional pollsters had predicted a big win for Democrat Terry McAuliffe. The Emerson students told a different story, forecasting only a two-point Democratic margin. The final count gave McAuliffe a 48-45 percent spread, almost exactly what the society members had predicted. Therefore, the group’s credibility going into this particular campaign has risen considerably.

When further questions were asked of a full sample of 500 6th District registered voters, including members from all parties, Tierney’s weakness and poor standing became evidenced even further. Asking about the general election, the polling sample favored Republican Richard Tisei – the man who lost to Tierney in 2012 by just one percentage point – over the congressman with a 51-43 percent tally. If Moulton were to become the Democratic nominee, he would lead the former Republican state Senator 44-36 percent.

Trends are suggesting a close vote count tomorrow, and the possibility of a Moulton upset is very real.

Massachusetts Governor

On the statewide ballot, both Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) and businessman Charlie Baker (R) are expected to easily win their respective party nominations for governor.

Considering that, two pollsters ran surveys to test both candidates in the general election. Mass Inc (polling for WBUR, the NPR news station in Boston; Aug. 24-31; 700 likely Massachusetts voters) finds Coakley, the candidate who lost to Scott Brown in the famous 2010 special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy, leading Baker 40-31 percent. But, in the unlikely event that Coakley is upset in tomorrow’s primary, the Republican would lead state Treasurer Steve Grossman (D) 34-29 percent, and former Medicare Administrator Don Berwick by a much larger 37-19 percent.

The University of Massachusetts at Lowell (Aug. 25-31; 685 likely Massachusetts voters) came to similar conclusions. They found that Coakley is ahead of Baker 42-31 percent, while the GOP nominee pushes in front of Grossman 33-31 percent.

New Hampshire Senate

New Hampshire also has a primary tomorrow, and though the general election match-up of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is virtually set, two more pollsters tested the general election.

Public Policy Polling (Aug. 27-28; 766 likely New Hampshire voters) finds the incumbent leading her challenger 50-44 percent, a common split when compared with findings from other survey research firms over the past few months. But, Public Opinion Strategies (Aug. 27-28; 31, Sept. 1; 500 likely New Hampshire voters) finds a much closer result. The POS reading records Brown trailing Sen. Shaheen only 41-44 percent.

Both of these polls suggest that the ensuing prime election time battle may become a competitive and close contest as we move on toward Election Day.

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