Polls Close in Pivotal Mass. Special Senate Election

BY Quinn Bowman  January 19, 2010 at 8:00 PM EST

Polls across Massachusetts closed at 8 p.m. EST tonight in the special U.S. Senate election that few people expected to be much of a contest. Republican state Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley now await the results in their bid to fill more than two years left in the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s term.

Turnout across the state was high, according to Boston’s National Public Radio affiliate, WBUR. See their slide show of images from today’s voting.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin predicted that turnout would be between 45 and 55 percent, which is higher than normal for a special election.

“We’ve been in touch with many of our city and town clerks to monitor turnout,” Galvin told WBUR. “They uniformly tell us that turnout is brisk, that interest is strong.”

Another twist in this surprisingly close race, which was assumed to be a cakewalk for Democrats in a typically liberal state, is that news media outlets did not order exit polls for the race. So, everyone will have to wait for the actual results to emerge rather than the possibility of the race being called based on exit polls.

We’ll keep you posted on developments right here on the Rundown, so stay tuned.

Polls in the race showed Brown closing on Coakley in the final weeks of the race, and several recent polls showed Brown on top. See this previous Rundown post for more on the polling situation.

The much, much larger issue behind this race is the future of President Obama’s signature domestic initiative, health care reform. If Brown pulls an upset on Coakley, he will change the balance of the U.S. Senate so that the Democrats have only 59 votes – not enough to force a vote on the final version of a compromise health care bill.

Lea Winerman, our reporter-producer for health care at the NewsHour, explained some of the maneuvering on the Rundown earlier.

Look at these links to keep up with the developments during the evening. We’ll update the story when we have a better picture of the results.

WBUR’s Special Election coverage

The Boston Globe’s Special Election coverage

Rundown friend Chris Cillizza is updating the race via Twitter tonight at his page, The Fix at the Washington Post.

You can watch a conversation between Cillizza and the NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan about the race here.


The New York Times’ Caucus Blog