Exit Survey Of Massachusetts Voters Confirms Lack Of Enthusiasm Among Progressives Hurt Coakley

An exit survey of Massachusetts voters confirms that “decreased turnout among constituencies that historically have voted for progressive candidates,” combined with a strong Republican performance among independents, delivered Scott Brown the margins he needed to win.

The poll, which was commissioned by “Women’s Voices, Women Vote” and conducted by Lake Research Partners (a firm headed by Martha Coakley’s pollster Celinda Lake), found that key demographic supporters of Obama (unmarried women, people of color, and younger voters) did not turn out in large numbers for Democrats. The Massachusetts turnout reflects recent trends in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections.

Martha Coakley reportedly did “no outreach” to communities of color and neglected to do any advertising in the African-American or Hispanic media. Voters under age of 40 went to Brown by a margin of 52% to 46%. But younger voters in general turned out at lower rates than in the past. The percentage of unmarried women who comprised the percentage of all voters fell 5 points from 2008. And, self-identified independents flocked to Brown in droves — 76% to 21%.

But even despite the depressed progressive turnout in yesterday’s election, a majority of voters (51%) still felt Obama and the Democrats are taking the country in the right direction. Issues, while important to voters, split along partisan lines: Coakley won health care voters, while Brown won among jobs and economy voters and tax/spending voters:


Forty-six (46%) of voters said their vote was mainly to show support for health care reform rather than to show opposition to it (35%).

— Independents sent a clearer signal on the issue, with 44% stating their vote was mainly in opposition to reform and 30% saying it was mainly in support.

Coakley voters were stronger in their support for reform (80% said their vote was mainly in support of reform) than Brown voters were in opposition to it (65% said their vote was mainly in opposition to reform).

— Coakley won among voters who rated health care reform a “10” on an importance scale (Coakley 53% to 47% for Brown), Brown won among voters who said the same for jobs and the economy (Brown 55% to 44% for Coakley) and won bigger among voters who highlighted taxes and spending (Brown 70% to Coakley 29%).

Many pundits are leaping to blame progressives. Glenn Beck said yesterday, “The progressive movement is sucking the blood out of each of the parties.” Conservative Democrat Lanny Davis said “blame the left for Massachusetts.” While there’s plenty of blame to go around, one thing that’s certain is that the progressive base’s current lack of enthusiasm is hurting Democratic candidates.


A separate poll of Massachusetts Obama voters found that they didn’t think the health care bill goes “far enough,” they support the public option, and they want Democrats to be bolder in their policy stances.


,A GOP poll finds that only 38% of Massachusetts voters said they were motivated by opposition to Obama’s policies.