Massachusetts poll hints at national political shift

By Danny Butler

WASHINGTON (UTC/AP) — Voter discontent with the direction of the government, economy and the health care overhaul helped send Republican Scott Brown to his Senate victory in Massachusetts, a poll says.

About 63 percent of Massachusetts voters in Tuesday’s election said the country is seriously off track, and Brown won two-thirds of those voters, according to the poll by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

In contrast, Barack Obama had solid support from the more than 80 percent of Massachusetts voters in the presidential election who viewed the country as off-course in November 2008.

Nearly two-thirds of those who supported Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley said their vote was intended partly to show opposition to the Democratic agenda in Washington, including the health care overhaul. Rather than just blocking proposals, three-quarters said they wanted to see Brown work with Democrats to get GOP proposals into legislation in general; nearly half said that specifically about the health care legislation.

Among other poll findings:

  • Half of Massachusetts voters believe government should do more to solve problems; that’s down from 63 percent when Obama was elected. The large pool of voters who saw government as overreaching helped Brown claim victory.
  • Health care and the economy were cited as the most important issues. Among voters for Brown, those issues were closely followed by the economy, jobs and “the way Washington is working.”
  • About 43 percent of Massachusetts voters back the health care proposals supported by Obama and congressional Democrats, while 48 percent oppose them. The majority of those who opposed the measures backed Brown, saying the Democrats’ plan would make things worse for their families, the country and Massachusetts.

The findings cover voter sentiment in Massachusetts but offer a hint of broader political shifts nationwide that have put Democrats on the defensive

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press