Pollster.com

Articles and Analysis

 

Mokrzycki: Additional details from Wash. Post poll in MA SEN aftermath

Topics: Barack Obama , Harvard School of Public Health , Interpreting polls , Kaiser Family Foundation , Massachusetts , Scott Brown , Washington Post

A survey The Washington Post conducted in Massachusetts last week in the aftermath of the U.S. Senate special election shocker was unusual for a political poll in that it interviewed non-voters as well as voters. (See Post story and full release with topline and other links.) I consulted for the Post on this project – which was fielded in conjunction with the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health – and with permission I’ll take a look here at Massachusetts adults who sat out the special election. I’ll particularly focus on those who said they did vote for president in 2008 – to try to assess evidence of an "enthusiasm gap" in Republican Scott Brown's victory over Democrat Martha Coakley for the seat long held by the late Democrat Edward M. Kennedy, and possible implications for the state's elections in November.

The sample of special election non-voters was small - 242 adults (sampling error plus or minus 8 points) - but it's safe to say they generally differed from voters little if at all on many questions such as the direction of the country and whether Brown should work with or mainly try to block Democrats when he gets to Washington.

Non-voters also were no different from voters on overall support for proposed health care reform, though they were more likely than voters to think those changes would be good for themselves and their family and for Massachusetts. Those who didn’t vote last week also may have been slightly more likely to favor a bigger role for government; only 37% of them, compared to 47% of voters, said government is doing too many things best left to businesses and individuals.

Of those 242 who did not vote in the special Senate election, 104 said they did vote for president in November 2008. We start getting into pretty big sampling errors with that subgroup but I feel comfortable concluding that what for shorthand I'll call these "occasional" voters were predominantly Democratic in their outlook:

  • Seven in 10 occasional voters said they voted for Obama in 2008 and about as many approve of how he's handling his job now (Obama got 62 percent of the Massachusetts vote in 2008, and 61 percent job approval in the Post poll)
  • Nearly half call themselves Democrats (this includes independents who lean Democratic), just one in 10 Republican
  • Fewer than three in 10 said they feel "enthusiastic" or "satisfied" about policies offered by Republicans in Washington, while nearly six in 10 felt that way about the Obama administration's policies
  • Only around two in 10 said that when Brown gets to Washington, he should mainly work to block the Democratic agenda and should stop Democrats on health care reform; nearly all the rest said he should work with Democrats.

On these and other measures, these occasional voters looked more like people who cast ballots for Coakley than Brown supporters. That suggests some people who on the whole might have been inclined to vote Democratic were not sufficiently motivated to turn out last week - evidence supporting the notion of an enthusiasm gap that the Democratic get-out-the-vote operation could not overcome.

The poll had little good news for Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick as he prepares to face the electorate himself. Just 40 percent of who voted in 2008 but not last week approved of how Patrick is handling his job – a number not significantly different than among those who did vote last week (36 percent). And should Democratic-oriented voters remain less inclined to turn out in November, obviously that could hurt other Democrats on the ballot, for U.S. House and other offices.

 

Comments
poughies:

Now the initial results that were broken down party id had indies at a very high % of the electorate... I'm assuming that leaning indies were not allotted to dem/rep in those results...

____________________

Mike Mokrzycki:

that is correct, those were unleaned #s.

____________________



Post a comment




Please be patient while your comment posts - sometimes it takes a minute or two. To check your comment, please wait 60 seconds and click your browser's refresh button. Note that comments with three or more hyperlinks will be held for approval.

MAP - US, AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, PR