Latest WBUR Poll: Here we go again folks.

A brand new WBUR/MassInc poll shows that Scott Brown would be the choice of Bay State voters when matched up against many of the state’s likely Democratic candidates if the potentially imminent special election for John Kerry’s US Senate seat were held today. Clearly, WBUR reporter Fred thys had not been reading this blog lately.

It appears that at least some of the folks who would be covering and commenting on another special election for US Senate in 2013 haven’t been paying attention to the dynamics of the last three US Senate races in Massachusetts with the help of this blog or any other reliable resource. If they were, they would surely understand that candidate preference polls in such a race (especially early ones) might as well include the disclaimer “for entertainment purposes only.”

This latest poll, like most or all soon to follow, are neither flawed nor deceptive (as far as I know), but the seemingly irresistible urge of political reporters and commentators to over-interpret the results of such polls is both flawed and deceptive, if not dishonest.

The value of candidate preference polling in assessing Scott Brown’s chances of victory in a special election to fill John Kerry’s seat is at present LESS than zero. Similar results at similar points in the last two elections gave false hope to Martha Coakley and Scott Brown respectively. Such poll results as these also scared off many serious Democratic contenders in the run up to the 2012 election, not to mention a number of high profile Republican politicians in the run up to the 2010 special election in which the Mass G.O.P.s sacrificial lamb, an unremarkable back bencher from the state senate, ended up as the Bay State’s first Republican US Senator in more than 40 years.

For the record, Brown’s chances in a 2013 special election are better than they were against Elizabeth Warren in 2012, but they are still not good, and they are definitely not “strong.” What they are is bad, which while better than a sharp stick in the eye, is not cause for speculation that Brown will be anything more than an under dog in a 2013 senate contest whose victory would depend entirely on events outside the control of the would be candidate or his campaign.

Stay tuned to this station and be prepared to experience some déjà vu.

About Jerold Duquette

Jerold Duquette is an associate professor of political science at Central Connecticut State University. He is the author of Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust and has published articles and book chapters on campaign finance reform, political parties, Massachusetts politics and political culture, public opinion, and political socialization. Professor Duquette lives in Longmeadow, MA with his wife and four children.
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