Emerson Poll: Patrick leads Brown in U.S. Senate matchup

With the expectation that U.S. Senator John Kerry will be appointed Secretary of State, attention now focuses on who will be his successor. A new survey by the Emerson College Polling Society (ECPS) finds that Governor Deval Patrick is ahead of U.S. Senator Scott Brown (48% to 43%) and former Governor William Weld (50% to 32%) in head-to-head matchups to succeed Kerry. Brown leads Vicki Kennedy, the widow of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, (46% to 40%). There was a 2.9 percent margin of error in the ECPS survey.

Felix Chen, chief analyst of the poll, pointed out that while Patrick may win the head-to-head contest, 38% of those surveyed believed Brown would be the next U.S. senator, 14% named Patrick, followed by 10% selecting Attorney General Martha Coakley,then Kennedy with 7%, and former Governor Weld with 3%.

In a hypothetical competitive primary between Patrick, Kennedy, Coakley and Congressman Mike Capuano, there was no clear front-runner, according the ECPS poll. Patrick received 20% of Democrat voters’ support while Kennedy was within the margin at 16%, Capuano at 13% and Coakley had 11%. Thirty percent of Democratic primary voters were undecided.

Brown has overwhelming support among GOP voters to be their party nominee, ahead of Weld by the comfortable margin of 80% to 7% among those polled.

Other Points

+ According to Chen, Senator Kerry has a 63% favorable rating and the support of nearly 59% of those polled to be Secretary of State.

+ Under the law a special election to fill the seat must be held no sooner than 145 days and no later than 160 days on a Tuesday placing the potential election sometime in late May or early June.

+ A Brown/ Kennedy campaign would showcase a third female Democratic U.S. Senate candidate challenging Brown. Brown is vulnerable with women voters, holding only a 3-point favorable to unfavorable opinion (46% to 43%).  Among men, Brown enjoys a 17% margin, (55% to 38%).  Chen points out that 40% of the female voters would choose Brown over Patrick in a potential Senate election.

+ Chen concludes that the ECPS data reveal another challenge for Brown.  The former senator trails both Patrick (29% to 61%) and Kennedy (31% to 51%) in the head-to-head match-ups among those polled in the greater Boston metro area.

+ Other potential candidates whose names surfaced in the poll are U.S. Congressman Ed Markey, Actor Ben Affleck, and former Republican Gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker.

+ Sixty-seven percent (67%) of respondents said that the recession was not over in Massachusetts and 13% thought it was.

Data was collected between Dec. 16 and 18, 2012, using an automated data collection system. The Massachusetts sample consisted of 1,053 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.9% at a 95% confidence level.  The full survey and results are available at the groups’ website.www.emersoncollegepollingsociety.com.

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