If Republicans weren’t nervous about Elizabeth Warren before, they are now. In her first poll as a candidate for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren leads Scott Brown, 46%-44%.
The PPP poll found that Elizabeth Warren’s favorability rating has almost doubled since June. Warren has gone from 21% favorable to 40%, while her opponent Scott Brown has seen his favorability rating plummet in the state. Last December Brown had a 53%/29% favorable/unfavorable split. While the senator has only lost 9 points off of his favorability rating, in just nine months his unfavorable rating has steadily climbed from 29% to 45%.
What could turn this race into a perfect storm against Scott Brown is rapidly growing disapproval rating among Democrats, where his favorable/unfavorable has gone from 35%/41%% to 25%/65%. The twenty four percent increase in Democratic disapproval combined with the fact that Democrats in the state now have a candidate that they can get behind add up to a troublesome race for Scott Brown.
The good news for Brown is that more of the state’s voters think that he is about right ideologically (45%) than think he is too conservative (38%). More voters still consider Brown an independent voice (47%) than consider him a partisan voice of the GOP (41%), but there is one out of state factor beyond all others that may cost Brown his Senate seat in 2012.
Barack Obama won Massachusetts 58%-32% in 2008. The bad news for Sen. Brown is that Obama will be on the ballot again in 2012, and Obama voters don’t like Scott Brown. His disapproval rating with Obama voters is 62%. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren’s favorability rating with voters who voted for Obama in 2008 is 55%. Fifty eight percent of Obama voters think Brown is too conservative, and 58% of them think he is a partisan voice for the national GOP.
In the potential 2012 head to head match up, Obama voters support Warren over Brown, 68%-20%.
If the state’s Obama voters show up at the polls in 2012, Elizabeth Warren is likely to defeat Scott Brown. Massachusetts may be one of the states where the national anti-incumbent mood works against the Republican Party. In the early going, this poll indicates that Democrats feel like they have a candidate that they can get behind. A bad national mood, and a popular challenger are sure signs of danger for any incumbent. It also doesn’t help Brown that this particular popular challenger happens to have been affiliated with the Obama administration, and while this could hurt a candidate in another state, it may end up helping Warren in 2012.
I also have a hunch that Scott Brown’s odds for reelection also hinge on who the Republican Party nominates. If Rick Perry is the nominee, Brown is going to struggle to win reelection. If Mitt Romney is the nominee, and he proves popular with the state’s Independents, this Senate race could be a dogfight on Election Night.
All in all, Elizabeth Warren is a formidable candidate who represents the Democratic Party’s best chance to pick up a Republican Senate seat in 2012. A combination of Obama voters showing up and a Rick Perry nomination is all that it may take to doom the former tea party golden boy, Scott Brown.