Republican former state Sen. Richard Tisei leads Democratic Rep. John Tierney in a new independent survey conducted for the Boston Globe, which also shows that Tierney's support has collapsed to extraordinarily dangerous levels for an incumbent as Republican groups have aired damaging TV advertisements against him.
Tisei leads Tierney, 37 percent to 31 percent, in the poll of Massachusetts's 6th Congressional District, with a very high 30 percent of voters undecided. The University of New Hampshire Survey Center conducted the poll for the Globe, surveying 371 likely voters from Sept. 21-27. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 5.1 percentage points. The new results, released Monday, come from an oversample of the Globe's Senate poll.
Tisei is still not widely known in the district, though those who have formed opinions of him view him favorably. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said they didn't know enough about Tisei to an form opinion of him, but 33 percent said they viewed him favorably, to 22 percent who viewed him unfavorably. Tierney, meanwhile, is underwater. Just under one-third of voters view him favorably and 43 percent view him unfavorably, suggesting a GOP ad blitz tying the congressman to his in-laws' legal problems has been successful.
YG Action Fund, a GOP-aligned super PAC run by former aides to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and a related non-profit have spent approximately $900,000 on independent expenditures in the race so far, most of that on TV ads linking Tierney -- who has never been formally accused of a crime -- to the offshore gambling-related charges against his wife and brothers-in-law in recent years. The PAC began airing those ads during the first week of September. More recently, the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent about the same amount on similar TV ads, which seem to have taken a heavy toll on the incumbent. Tierney is running TV ads linking Tisei to national conservative figures, including Sarah Palin, as he tries to define Tisei negatively before voters get to hear too much from Tisei himself, but the GOP offensive appears to be having more of an impact.
Last week, Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC cancelled over $600,000 in TV ad reservations in Boston that they could have used to support Tierney.