State House News Service
---- — BOSTON — Let the speculation begin.
Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is the guy who portrayed himself as a regular guy and husband who drove a pickup truck and helped his wife fold the laundry. Former Congressman Joseph Kennedy II represents the liberal Democratic, aristocracy of the state, if not the nation.
That would be the theoretical matchup for next year’s Massachusetts gubernatorial race, according to a new poll released from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst yesterday.
According to the poll, the good feelings for Brown persist even though he was defeated for a full term in the U.S. Senate by Elizabeth Warren last year. According to the poll he leads all potential candidates in next year’s race for the Statehouse corner office.
Brown’s closest theoretical competition would come from Kennedy, who would be in a virtual tie with Brown, 42-41.
Respondents were asked about their likely vote choice in several head-to-head electoral contests between potential Republican and Democratic candidates, including Brown, Kennedy, former State Sen. Richard Tisei, R-Lynnfield, State Treasurer Steve Grossman, a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, a Democrat from Somerville, and former Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Charlie Baker, a Republican who ran for governor in 2010.
Current Gov. Deval Patrick has announced that he will not seek a third term in 2014, opening the field for the state’s highest office.
“Voters continue to have good feelings for Scott Brown, even after his 2012 Senate loss,” said Ray La Raja, associate director of the UMass Poll. “For a Democratic state like Massachusetts, Beacon Hill is a safer spot to put a well-liked Republican rather than next to Mitch McConnell in Washington.”
“Although he’s been out of office since 1999, former Representative Kennedy’s popularity demonstrates the continued electoral relevance of the Kennedy name in the minds of the state’s voters,” said Tatishe Nteta, associate director of the UMass Poll.
“A Kennedy-Brown match-up poses an intriguing twist on political history in Massachusetts,” said La Raja. “On the Democratic side, you have political and economic aristocracy against a Republican with an image as the guy-next-store in the pickup. That’s a far cry from a century ago when the Democrat Kennedys were seen as the Irish upstarts against the GOP Brahmins.”
Brown leads Grossman by 29 points (55-26), and Capuano by 12 (45-33). Kennedy, who served in Congress for 12 years beginning in 1987, shows leads of seven (40-33) and 23 points (48-25) over Tisei and Baker, respectively.
“These are all experienced candidates and officeholders who have a shot at winning the governor’s office,” La Raja explained. “We don’t know who will win, but this poll represents the public’s thinking right now if these candidates squared off in a general election. Our poll suggests that some of the candidates who lag need to build their name brand quite a bit before the elections.
The poll of 500 registered Massachusetts voters was conducted May 30 to June 4 by YouGov America under the direction of UMass Poll at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (www.umass.edu/poll). YouGov was rated as one of the most accurate pollsters of the 2012 election by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com. The margin of error for the poll is 5.4 percent.