WBUR Poll: Tierney Leads Tisei In Tight Race

BOSTON — With as many as 22 percent still undecided, a WBUR poll of voters (PDFs – topline, crosstabs) in the 6th Congressional District finds incumbent Democratic Rep. John Tierney leads his Republican challenger, former state Sen. Richard Tisei, by seven points.

The survey of 401 likely voters, conducted for WBUR by the MassINC Polling Group, had a margin of error of 4.9 percent. (Here’s our conversation with the pollster.)

It’s clear from conversations with voters that many aren’t even thinking about the congressional race yet. But most voters, 57 percent, say they have heard a “great deal” or a “fair amount” about the legal problems of Tierney’s wife. She was convicted of being willfully blind to the fact that a bank account she handled for one of her brothers contained proceeds from illegal gambling operations.

Click for the poll’s topline results (PDF).

It’s one of the reasons Tierney is not well liked.

Testing The Waters With Voters

Every morning, a small group of North Shore residents settles aboard the ferry Nathaniel Bowditch for the 7 a.m. commute to Boston. Vin Brodie, from Marblehead, is among them. He calls Tierney arrogant.

“I never cared for Tierney, even before all this stuff came out, so I’m in favor of Tisei.” Brodie said anybody would be better than Tierney.

Thirty percent of voters have an unfavorable opinion of Tierney in our poll. Just 35 percent have a favorable opinion of him. But Tisei is not well known. Twenty-five percent of voters say they have never heard of him.

Dee Cuffe, of Marblehead, has heard the name, but not much more.

“Honestly, I don’t really know anything about John Tierney’s opponent,” Cuffe said.

Despite not being very well known, Tisei still has the lead among the voters who have heard at least a “fair amount” about the legal problems of Tierney’s wife.

Outside Red’s, a popular lunch spot in downtown Salem, Alan Waller, of Marblehead, is among those voters who want a change.

“I think we need to remove Tierney and elect Tisei,” Waller said. But Waller thinks it will be an uphill battle for the Republican. After all, Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one in Massachusetts.

In the 6th Congressional District, Tierney has loyal support of people like Greg Cotraro, from Beverly. He’s retired now from a life as a laborer.

“Concrete, jackhammers, pipelines, bridges, tunnels, dirt between the fingernails, that sort of labor,” Cotraro said. “Sore back and I’m still hearing the ringing of all the machinery in my ears at the age of 66.”

Cotraro is among the 39 percent of voters who support Tierney.

“I’ve been with Tierney,” Cotraro said. “He’s been for labor from day one, so I have to vote my sensitivities, which are for labor. So he’s the man, all the best to him.”

Even so, Cotraro sees why people like Tisei.

“Actually, Tisei looks like he’s a reasonable sort of fellow, certainly not coming from the far right, so we have a fair choice,” Cotraro said.

Thirty-two percent of likely voters say Tisei is their choice. Salem’s Geri Pawlak is one of them.

“Tierney’s so much part of a machine, and he has a scandal, and I’m thinking, you gotta wake up,” said Pawlak, who thinks Tisei should win. “I think it should have an obvious outcome, but it won’t.”

Pawlak believes most voters will stick with Tierney.

Editor’s Note: We regret the inadvertent omission of a third candidate, Libertarian Daniel Fishman, who is also running for a House seat in the 6th Congressional District. Six percent of voters said they would vote for Fishman.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • http://twitter.com/AngstyLoyalist Wing Night Alone

    You’re 66 and still a day labourer. What has Tierney done for you? ‘Supports labor’? Gets fat off your dues, more like.

  • Panda Man

    Did you read the article?  It says he’s retired.  

  • rd

    How many people have control over what their in-laws do?  That whole scandal is such a red herring.  If you look at Tierney’ s voting record he has been on the side of the environment, of women, and of small business every time.  He has a fantastic voting record.  Check it out.

    • lifeonabudget

      He’s been on the side of big government, big spending, big regulations, big wealth redistribution, big welfare and all the while, he is unaware that  $7M is flowing through his household accounts in a money laundering scheme. Some fantastic record.

  • J__o__h__n

    Tisei might be moderate but he will be a vote for the national Republican party in Congress. 

    • oddjob

      Exactly.  The very last thing the House of Representatives needs right now is another vote supporting Republican extremism (and Tisei would have to do that because the way the House works he’d just get punished if he didn’t toe the line; a freshman has no clout unless the freshman is obedient).

  • J__o__h__n

    People from Marbehead are supporting the Republican.  Shocking!

  • CitizenCharlesFosterKane

    Yes, give another vote to the GOP extremists.  It’s worked so well in the past. 

    • Retnan

      Homo RINO Tisei is hardly an extremist. He’s more like a moderate democrat, unlike the communist Tierney.

  • ALittleSnarky

    Tisei is just a real estate rich kiddo trying to do something with his money…. why not buy a congress seat if the top of the ticket was successful in buying the nomination.  Apart from Marblehead and Lynnfield…not many supporters for Tisei.

  • Ginger01945

    Tsei has a lot of skeletons in his closet, his family (not his in-laws as in John Tierney’s case) has been involved in shady real estate dealings.  Why is that not discussed at all?  John Tierney is not part of ANY machine, he is a democrat who crosses party lines in popularity and has done an outstanding job of representing his district in Congress.  And Patrice Tierney cannot help who her relatives are, she has simply tried to take care of her mother and her nieces and nephews, a more generous and kind-hearted person you will never meet.

    • Retnan

      Tierney is a Marxist Obama scumbag.

  • J__o__h__n

    I just looked at the chart that includes leaning voters and it shows Tierney leading Tisei 46 to 34.  In a story about how many of the voters are undecided, I would think it would be important to include. 

    • Retnan

      It is included. 11% undecided, 22% if you take out leaners.

  • longfang72


    • Retnan

      Has a 0% chance of winning.

Most Popular