Next week’s Massachusetts Senate race to fill Edward Kennedy’s seat isn’t just another voting day. Kennedy passed away this summer in the midst of an ongoing battle in Washington over health care reform, a battle of which he was on the front lines. And with his seat, the future of health care in America hangs in the balance. The Democrats must hang on to the Kennedy seat to maintain the 60-vote margin they need to pass President Barack Obama’s overhaul of health care despite Republican opposition.
Clearly, this is a serious situation and people are taking it as such. Some people are even going as far as “push” polling, which is when someone, under the pretense of a poll, tries to influence a voter for or against a candidate.
William Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell, writes on his blog about an email he received from a Massachusetts resident describing her experience which links push pollers to hate groups. A poster on Universal Hub also describes his experience with these callers. This poster claims that the poll was “sponsored by” the Americans in Contact PAC. Their mission, according to their website, “is to identify social and fiscal conservatives throughout America and engage them at the Grassroots level in the political process of elections and legislation…” Their website also says that they have endorsed Republican Scott Brown who, according to them, “will be the last vote needed to stop the government from taking over the health care system and stopping tax-payer funded abortions.” Blue Mass Group also has reports of push polling, as well as an Internet message board with people claiming they have received similar calls.
It seems that these push polls are fairly one sided, as many bloggers have tried and failed to come up with names of people who have received anti-Brown or pro-Coakley phone calls, including Dan Kennedy at Media Nation, who tweeted about looking for people who have received such calls.
Right now, it looks as though Democrats are worried that they might lose the seat. President Barack Obama has come out in support of the Democratic candidate Attorney General Martha Coakley. The Associate Press reports that Vicki Kennedy, Ted Kennedy’s widow, made a television commercial urging people to vote for Coakley as well.
According to the Rasmussen Reports survey released late Tuesday, Coakley has a slim two-point lead over Republican Scott Brown, 49% to 47%, just a week before voting. Last week, Coakley’s lead in the Rasmussen poll was nine-percent.
I’m hoping that all of this excitement surrounding the race will get more people to vote. Since I can’t vote (I’m registered in New York), I’m just doing my part to encourage people.