WGBH Poll Shows Dead Heat In 10th District

By Sean Corcoran

October 18, 2010

The race for the 10th Congressional District is wide open.

So finds a poll released Monday by WGBH and the MassINC. Polling Group.

The poll of 400 likely voters in the Massachusetts 10th Congressional District shows that the race to replace retiring Democratic Congressman Bill Delahunt is extremely tight, with 46 percent of likely voters polling for Democrat Bill Keating, and 43 percent for Republican Jeffrey Perry. The poll's margin of error of 4.9 percent means the race is a statistical tie with just two weeks to go before Election Day.

The Race For The 10th

Final Vote Preference With Leaners: 46 % of those polled chose Keating, while 43 % chose Perry -- a statistical dead heat.
The 10th Congressional is the most conservative voting district in the state, but Democrats there still outnumber Republicans by a 2:1 margin. Unenrolled voters outnumber both parties combined. Steve Koczela, president of Mass Inc Polling Group, says the race right now really is about who can most effectively garner those independent votes.

"The un-enrolled right now we're showing very close. We have Perry with 45 percent and Keating with 41 percent, so Perry has an edge -- again with a  margin of error it's essentially a toss up among the un-enrolled as well. But that for both men is where the last few weeks of the race should lie," Koczela said. 

While statistically Perry and Keating are polling about equal among the un-enrolled, when it comes to favorability, Perry is clearly on top. 41 percent of un-enrolled voters say they have a favorable view of Perry, compared to 26 percent who view Keating favorably.

Jennifer Hansa of Quincy says she expects to vote for Perry, largely because of fiscal concerns. "Likely I'll be voting for Jeff Perry because I feel the Republicans have the best platforms they're running on. You know --t ax cuts and save money for the state, which is desperately needed right now," Hansa said.

But sixty-four-year-old Jack Timmons of Quincy says he's voting for Keating, primarily because of concerns about the incident in the early 1990s, when Perry was a police sergeant in Wareham and an officer under his command illegally strip-searched two teenage girls. Perry was never charged or disciplined in the two cases.

"Well, I don't trust Perry. I'm a born-again Northeast liberal anyway, but Perry just makes me feel uncomfortable. He has some problems with his past, and now he has the people who were accusing him in the past are now coming out in support of him, and now it just smells like a deal to me." Timmons said, referring to Perry's former police chief, who chastised him in the past but now speaks well of him.

The Governor's Race

In the race for governor, the poll hints at trouble for state treasurer and Independent candidate Tim Cahill, and good news for Republican candidate Charlie Baker.
Favorability of Tim Cahill: Only 33% of likely voters in the 10th District view Cahill favorably. 48% view him unfavorably, while 20% either did not know of Cahill or refused to answer the question.

48 percent of respondents say they have a positive view of Baker, compared to 44 percent who view Gov. Deval Patrick in a favorable light. On the unfavorable side, 32 percent see Baker unfavorably, while 53 percent have an unfavorable view of Patrick.

But Koczela says the numbers that really stand out are related to Independent candidate Tim Cahill, who lives in the district, but only received a favorable rating from 33 percent of respondents. "The Cahill numbers, he's actual seen unfavorably by 48 percent. So he's unfavorably even in his own home region, we'll call it, he's seen more unfavorably than favorably in his own home region," Koczela explained.

But 61-year-old Paul Taylor says he's on Cahill's team because of the state treasurer's government experience. "I'm taking Tim. I think Tim Cahill is going to be the best. I'm from Quincy, and I know he is too. But I think, um, he can do a lot better than the others because I don't like the way things are," Taylor said.

Taylor added that Baker's tenure as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim doesn't sit well with him. "I was a member of Harvard for a long time, and my rates were up so high, for a senior I was paying over $1,200 a month for individual," Taylor said. "And it was almost impossible. I was so glad to become 65 so that I could be on Medicare."

The Tea Party In The 10th

Voters in the 10th Congressional District also were asked how they feel about the Tea Party movement -- and again the result is a statistical dead heat. 39 percent of voters say they have a favorable view of the political movement, and 43 percent say they have an unfavorable view.

Forty-one-year-old Ann-Marie Allen of Sandwich says she supports the Tea Party largely because it shows her that Americans care about what their government is doing. "I think it's an excellent movement that shows that Americans are interested in what's going on in government. For a number of years it's seemed to be a very lackadaisical attitude about our government. And so I think it shows a general interest in what's going on in our country, and a general interest in the unfair tax practices, and I think people want to make their voices know," Allen said.

Timmons, however, has concerns about the movement. "They scare me. Well, they're just so way out, there's nothing, no realism in what they want to do . They want to make changes, but they don't seem to be taking the consequences of those changes into effect."

The 10th District: A Question 3 Bellweather?
Question 3: 49% of likely voters said they would vote in favor of question 3, while 43 said they would vote against it. 8% said they didn't know or refused to answer the question.

The poll also asked voters about referendum question 3, which would reduce the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent. 49 percent of those polled were in favor of the tax cut, while 43 percent were opposed.

Because the 10th Congressional District is the state's most conservative, Koczela says the results should not be too concerning to people who want to keep the sales tax rate the way it is.

"It is pretty close. And the thing to keep in mind is this is only in the 10th. If this is an ideological issue, opponents of reducing the sales tax shouldn't really see this as a problem. If there's only a 6 percent difference in the 10th, it's going to be a lot closer and even go the other way in some of the other districts around the state," Koczela said.

The WGBH poll was conducted by MassINC Polling Group between October 13th and the 15th using both landline phones and cell phones. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

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