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Massachusetts Senate race hinges on independent vote

Massachusetts is one of the most Democratic states in the country. But moderate Republicans have done well there too over the years, and independent voters are likely to make the difference in the special US Senate race.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, center, campaigns with Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown as he greets Susan Fantasia in Boston's North End on Friday.

Winslow Townson/AP

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Massachusetts has long been regarded as a liberal stronghold, but the special election to replace Sen. Edward Kennedy in the US Senate is showing Massachusetts has a more conservative streak as well.

State Sen. Scott Brown (R) is proving to be a major challenge for Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), who was heavily favored early in the race; a poll released late Thursday had Mr. Brown leading Ms. Coakley by 4 percentage points.

Brown’s success may have to do with his ability to appeal to independent voters in the Bay State – 51 percent of voters here are unenrolled.

True, Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-to-1, and the state can be counted on to elect Democratic presidential candidates by consistently wide margins – President Obama won here with a 26-point margin in 2008, Sen. John Kerry by 25 points in 2004.

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