With just under six weeks remaining in the race to gain the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat vacated by the late Edward M. Kennedy ’54-56, the two Harvard alumni in contention are facing large gaps in the polls, according to figures released last week by a Massachussetts-based polling institute.
Stephen G. Pagliuca, a 1982 graduate of Harvard Business School, and Alan A. Khazei ’83, placed second and fourth in the poll released by the New England College Polling Institute in Springfield last Monday, which showed Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley leading the four-person field by a margin of 23 percent.
“We feel very good about where we are in the campaign,” said Alex Zaroulis, communications director of Coakley’s campaign, after the poll figures showed 37 percent of respondents throwing their support behind Coakley.
But Pagliuca, shown to have gained the support of 14 percent of poll respondents, said he was pleased with his position in the race. “We moved from nothing to second place in [a span of] three weeks,” he said when asked about his reaction to the recent poll.
“We’re going to keep talking about making Massachusetts a great place,” added Pagliuca, who has adopted a platform that emphasizes proposed health care and financial reforms.
The Khazei campaign, despite gaining the support of only four percent of respondents in the recent poll, which claimed an error margin of five percent, also expressed optimism yesterday about the former Currier House Committee chairman’s spot in the race. Citing the fact that 26 percent of individuals in the poll identified themselves as undecided, Dave Jacobson, the press liaison for the Khazei campaign, noted that “the only poll that matters is the poll on Election Day.”
Stating that Khazei supporters represent “a large grassroots movement that is building [momentum] every single day,” Jacobson said that the campaign will put further emphasis on a strong advertising push occurring online and over the airwaves. Volunteers will also participate in a statewide canvas for Khazei this weekend.
Mass. Congressman Michael E. Capuano, who had garnered 13 percent of the state’s support according to the poll, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The election to decide the Democratic nomination is currently slated to take place on December 8, after which candidates will have six weeks to prepare for the general election on January 19.
“We need to focus on getting [our] message out to voters and keep working hard all the way until December 8,” said Coakley Communications Director Zaroulis.
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