A new UMass Amherst Poll released today found that Elizabeth Warren has opened up a four point lead on Scott Brown, 43%-39%.
Warren’s lead in the poll was within the margin of error, but the Democratic challenger leads Sen. Brown in several key areas. Warren leads Brown 38%-32% on the question of which candidate would do a better job handling the economy. She also leads the Republican incumbent, 40%-29% on healthcare, and 37%-30% on taxes. Brown leads Warren 33%-25% on the handling of terrorism.
Brown leads with men, 46%-40%, but Warren enjoys a much larger lead with women, 46%-31%. Warren leads with both those making less than $40K (42%-27%), and those making more than $40K (48%-37%). Brown leads with those who earn over $100,000 a year, 48%-42%. Warren has a big lead with younger voters (18-29), 52%-21% and those over 55 (44%-41%), but Brown leads with voters age 30-54 (44%-38%). Brown leads with Republicans (93%-0%) and Independents (49%-31%), but Warren has a big lead with Democrats (78%-6%).
The most troubling head to head statistic for Brown is that he is only retaining 81% of those who voted for him in the 2010 special election. Seven percent of his support has already shifted to Elizabeth Warren, and she has kept 89% of those who voted for Coakley. Only 3% of those who supported Martha Coakley in 2010 are supporting Scott Brown in 2012. Elizabeth Warren has a big lead with liberals (77%-5%) and moderates (49%-31%). As expected, Brown dominates with conservatives (87%-4%).
The one thing that jumps out about these numbers is that Warren’s leads are bigger than Brown’s leads outside of his advantages with Republicans and conservatives. This is why beyond the horse race head to head numbers; it is fitting to describe Warren as surging.
For Brown to have any chance of victory at all he has to dominate with Independents and his current advantage isn’t big enough. Scott Brown’s biggest issue is his upside down approval rating. Only 37% of the state’s voters gave Scott Brown a favorable job approval rating. In contrast, President Obama has a 49% job approval rating in Massachusetts.
In fact, it is the Obama constituency that is powering a great deal of the support for Elizabeth Warren. Like Obama, Warren has a big lead with younger and female voters. The worst news of all for Brown is that Obama has a big 15 point lead over Mitt Romney in the state. If the Obama voters come out to the polls next November, they will be supporting Elizabeth Warren.
None of this means that Warren should start writing her victory speech, but there are some strong omens in the polling that point to Elizabeth Warren being a powerful candidate. With almost a year to go until the 2012 a lot can happen, but it looks like the Warren/Brown contest is going to be an epic liberal versus conservative showdown. Brown may be fighting not only Warren, but the history and inertia of returning a liberal seat back to an unabashed liberal.
Image: News Tendency