Voters are vaguely aware of the Tierney family's legal woes, according to the poll. Twenty-eight percent say they have heard "a great deal" about "Tierney's family's legal problems," while 29 percent have heard "a fair amount." But 18 percent say they have not heard very much, while 23 percent said they have heard "nothing at all."
The competitive nature of the race is causing Tierney, an 8-term member of the House who has been elected with more than two-thirds of the vote in each of his last 6 elections, to go on the offensive. Roll Call reported
Tuesday that Tierney launched his first TV ad, a negative spot tying Tisei to national tea party leaders like Sarah Palin
and Newt Gingrich
. YG Action Fund, a Republican-aligned super PAC run by former aides to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
, launched a TV ad
hitting Tierney on his family's legal troubles last week, just before the WBUR poll went in the field.
That attack may resonate somewhat in the district. Likely voters favor President Obama
over Mitt Romney
, the Bay State's former governor, 47 percent to 37 percent, the poll shows. But crossover voters may present an opportunity for Tisei. Just 29 percent of poll respondents said they were registered Democrats, with the majority, 56 percent, saying they were not enrolled with either party.
The poll was conducted Sept. 8-10, surveying 401 likely voters via landline and cellular telephone. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 4.9 percentage points.
Scott Bland contributed