In a newly released poll, Senator Scott Brown garnered 41% of the vote while Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren received 38%. Brown, who maintains a tenuous lead, is only slightly ahead in one of the most hotly contested senate races in the nation. The Umass-Lowell/Boston Herald survey -- which was conducted September 22-28 -- confirms that Elizabeth Warren will pose a significant and potentially demoralizing threat to Scott Brown’s reelection.
As I reported a few weeks ago, when Senator Brown was trailing the nominal Democratic challenger by two percentage points in a PPP poll, I suggested that the race could go either way. As the only Republican serving in the U.S. Congress from the Bay State, I still hold this view. But while Warren has gained the support of important political leaders and organizations in Massachusetts – and is now ostensibly neck-and-neck with the incumbent – Scott Brown continues to attract attention from independent voters in an overwhelmingly blue state. Roll Call reports:
Warren has substantial support among the Democratic political establishment in Boston and Washington, D.C. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) will endorse Warren this afternoon.
The UMass-Lowell/Boston Herald poll also found that 50 percent of registered voters believe Brown has been "an independent voice" for the Bay State, playing into a key narrative the Brown campaign hopes to emphasize.
The poll also found that Warren still has a lot of room to make an impression with Massachusetts voters. Fifty-two percent of those polled had a favorable opinion of Brown, while 30 percent had a favorable view of Warren. But 37 percent had never heard of Warren and 14 percent of those who had were still undecided. Only 29 percent of registered voters had an unfavorable opinion of Brown, and only 18 percent had an unfavorable view of Warren.
Nonetheless, it’s important to note that twenty-one percent of those who participated in the survey were either undecided or would vote for another candidate. These ambivalent voters, of course, will have a major impact on the outcome of the election. As the race heats up in the months ahead, let’s hope the Brown reelection campaign is ready for a challenge in what is likely to be the most widely anticipated political contest of 2012.