To the surprise of no one, US Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has received a significant bounce after her -- shall we say -- thought-provoking speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The question, however, is will it last? The PPP pollsters provide some insight:
Things have been going Elizabeth Warren's way in the Massachusetts Senate race over the last month. She's gained 7 points and now leads Scott Brown 48-46 after trailing him by a 49-44 margin on our last poll.
Warren's gaining because Democratic voters are coming back into the fold. Last month she led only 73-20 with Democrats. Now she's up 81-13. That explains basically the entire difference between the two polls. There are plenty of Democrats who like Scott Brown- 29% approve of him- but fewer are now willing to vote for him. That's probably because of another finding on our poll- 53% of voters want Democrats to have control of the Senate compared to only 36% who want Republicans in charge. More and more Democrats who may like Brown are shifting to Warren because they don't like the prospect of a GOP controlled Senate.
Brown's approval numbers have actually improved since our poll last month. 55% of voters approve of him to 34% who disapprove. He continues to dominate the race with independents, leading 56-35, and he's taking 94% of the Republican vote. 56% of voters think he's ideologically 'about right' to only 29% who think he's too conservative. And 49% consider him to be more an 'independent voice for Massachusetts' than the 40% who think he's more a 'partisan voice for the national Republican Party.'Brown continues to be one of the more popular Senators in the country and he's doing what he needs to do in this campaign, but his party label may end up being more than he can overcome.
In other words, it appears Senator Scott Brown’s approval numbers are improving -- but because moderate Democrats in Massachusetts fear a Republican takeover of the United States Senate -- they’re ready to vote for a liberal ideologue in November instead. That’s infuriating, of course, especially when one delves into the internals and learns voters have a higher overall opinion of Scott Brown than John Kerry! In any case, and perhaps worst of all, the seemingly outrageous D/R/I sample breakdown (38/17/45) surprisingly checks out -- that is, it closely resembles the voter turnout split in 2008, according to Massachusetts exit polls. Put simply, is it time for Republicans to start worrying? A few points on that score:
(1) According to this survey, six percent of electorate is undecided. At first glance, this seems insignificant, but considering how close this race will be (the president of PPP pegs the race as “a toss-up”) the outcome could be determined by as few as a handful of votes.
(2) Interestingly, 44 percent of the Massachusetts electorate believe Elizabeth Warren is “too liberal” whereas only 29 percent believe Scott Brown is “too conservative.” Thus, if Scott Brown can solidify his image as a moderate, get-things-done reformer (in an otherwise highly partisan and divided Congress) he just might be able to eek this thing out.
(3) Finally, and most important, there haven’t been any debates yet. Scott Brown is a seasoned debater (remember this?) so it’s rather hard for me to be pessimistic before both candidates square off in front of the American people. Remember, too, this is Elizabeth Warren’s first time running for elected office, which should (theoretically) give Senator Brown a distinct advantage in all four, head-to-head general election debates.
UPDATE - A Western New England University poll shows Elizabeth Warren edging Scott Brown by six percentage points.
UPDATE II - Townhall.com’s Poll Tracker average is worth noting: