Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has a higher favorability rating than any other candidate in the rapidly-coalescing field for the US Senate seat left vacant by the death of the late Edward M. Kennedy, a new poll released tonight shows.
Fifty-three percent of people viewed Coakley favorably, compared with 16 percent for US Representative Michael Capuano, who is planning to challenge Coakley for the Democratic nomination, and 20 percent for State Senator Scott Brown, the highest-profile Republican to announce.
Coakley was also much better known than her rivals, with only 12 percent saying they didn't know who she was, compared with 33 percent for Capuano and 39 percent for Brown, according to the Suffolk University/WHDH-TV News poll.
Stephen Pagliuca, a wealthy private equity investor and co-owner of the Boston Celtics, who is poised to announce a campaign for the Democratic nomination tomorrow at the TD Garden, had a major name recognition problem, with 72 percent of those surveyed saying they had never heard of him. Three percent of those surveyed said they viewed him favorably.
In a hypothetical race between Coakley and Brown in the January 2010 election, Coakley would trounce Brown 54 percent to 24 percent, the poll also found.
The random telephone survey of 500 voters statewide was conducted from Saturday to Tuesday. It had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
The survey also unearthed a lingering loyalty to the Kennedy clan, with former US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II getting a 62 percent favorable rating and the late Senator Kennedy's widow, Vicki, getting a 46 percent favorable rating. Fifty-nine percent also told pollsters they would have voted for Joseph Kennedy if he ran for the Democratic nomination.
"It says to me that, going forward, he still has options," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. "But whether or not he pursues them is his own business."
Voters also said they supported a proposal to allow the governor to appoint an interim senator, with 55 percent in favor and 41 percent opposed.
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