Two weeks before the US Senate special election, an independent poll released today shows Democrat Martha Coakley leading Republican state Senator Scott Brown by only 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent.
One percent said they would vote for another candidate -- Joseph L. Kennedy is running as an independent -- and 7 percent said they were not sure who they would vote for.
The survey by Rasmussen Reports of 500 voters who say they are likely to cast a ballot on Jan. 19 was conducted Monday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
Among voters who are "absolutely certain they will vote, Brown pulls to within two points of Coakley," the attorney general, according to the posting on the company's website. "That suggests a very low turnout will help the Republican and a higher turnout is better for the Democrat," Rasmussen said.
Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by better than 3 to 1, but the Rasmussen poll showed Brown leading among voters not affiliated with either party by a 65-to-21 percent margin. Independent, or so-called unenrolled voters, make up more than half of the Bay State electorate.
Brown was rated favorably by 58 percent of those surveyed and unfavorably by 25 percent, according to the poll. Coakley was rated favorably by 60 percent and unfavorably by 35 percent.
Rasmussen also polled on attitudes toward underlying issues.
The survey found that Massachusetts voters by a 53-45 percent margin hold favorable views of the bills now before Congress that would overhaul national health care. But on the 2006 Massachusetts health care law, only 32 percent rated it a success, 36 said it was a failure, and 32 percent were not sure, according to the survey.
Regarding the war in Afghanistan, 44 percent rated President Obama's handling as excellent or good, compared with 55 percent who said his handling of the conflict is either fair or poor. Only 19 percent said the believed the situation in Afghanistan will get better in the next six months, while 45 percent said it will get worse and 23 percent said it will stay the same.
Overall, 57 percent of voters surveyed said they approve of the job Obama is doing, compared with 42 percent who said they disapproved. For Governor Deval Patrick, who is up for reelection this year, his job approval ratings are worse -- 41 percent approve of the job he is doing, and 57 percent disapprove. Within those figures, only 9 percent "strongly approve" of Patrick's handling of the job, while 40 percent said they "strongly disapprove."
On the beat
Columnist Kevin Cullen says Bobby Long and Tom Foley did more than the entire FBI to bring Whitey Bulger to justice. Read more