Poll: Warren narrowly leads Brown in Massachusetts U.S. Senate race

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Newly-announced U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren narrowly leads current Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, according to a Public Policy Polling poll released Tuesday.

Democratic Warren — a law professor and attorney — leads Republican Brown 46 percent to 44 percent in a head-to-head match up. Voters also have a more favorable opinion of the Harvard professor, with 40 percent saying they hold a favorable opinion and 22 percent saying they hold an unfavorable opinion. Brown’s job performance gets more mixed reviews, with just 44 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving. However, Brown is far better known than Warren — 38 percent of voters are still not sure what they think of Warren.

Brown’s approval rating has steadily declined since he was first elected as one of the country’s most popular senators. In December of 2010, 53 percent approved and 29 percent disapproved of his job performance. By June of 2011, that split had narrowed to 48 percent approving and 36 percent disapproving. Now it sits at 44-45.

Massachusetts is a very Democratic state, and Brown is a Republican, but a plurality of voters feel that his politics are about right, and that he has served as an independent voice for Massachusetts, rather than a partisan voice for the Republican party.

However, a fair number of voters still find him to be too conservative: Forty-five percent say his politics are about right, but 38 percent say he is too conservative. The Republican Party itself does not poll well in the state, with 56 percent saying it is too conservative. Some of the criticism of Brown likely stems from the fact that 41 percent say that he has been a partisan voice for the GOP, though a greater number — 47 percent — say he has been an independent voice.

Other candidates for the seat — Tom Conroy, Alan Khazei, Bob Massie, and Setti Warren — make little dent in the poll, as they are unknown by most Massachusetts residents, with 60 to 80 percent of voters saying they are “not sure” of their opinion of these candidates.

The poll is based on a sample of 791 Massachusetts voters surveyed by robo-call from September 16 through September 18. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.