A new poll released by WBUR in Boston on Thursday shows that recently defeated Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) is well positioned to win a special election to replace current Senator John Kerry (D-MA) should Kerry's seat become vacant when, as expected, he is nominated and confirmed as the next Secretary of State. The poll of 500 registered voters shows that if the special election were held today, Brown would defeat a "generic" Democratic candidate by a 47% to 39% margin.
Among possible Republican primary candidates, Brown wins in a landslide, with 81% of the vote among Republicans and Independents.
If Governor Patrick were to enter the Democratic primary, he would win going away. The poll gives him 36% of the vote among Democrats and independents, to 21% for Attorney General Martha Coakley, who was defeated by Brown in the January 2010 special election to replace the late Senator Edward Kennedy. No other Democratic candidate registers in double digits.
Under current Massachusetts law, a special election must be held within 160 days after a United States Senator resigns or dies in office. The governor is required to appoint an interim senator to hold the office until the special election is held.
There had been speculation that Governor Patrick would appoint Vicki Kennedy, the widow of former Senator Edward Kennedy, to the interim position, but current rumors point to 79 year old former governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis as the frontrunner for the temporary appointment.
There has also been speculation that the governor and the Democratically controlled state legislature might change the law to allow the governor to appoint a senator who would serve until the next general election in November 2014, rather than a special election held some time in early 2013.