A new Public Policy Polling poll of Massachusetts has found that Elizabeth Warren has increased her lead over Sen. Scott Brown to 46%-41%.
According to PPP, Democratic challenger Warren has seen her lead over Brown more than double from two points, (46%-44%) to five points, (46%-41%). The race remains close because Sen. Brown’s cultivated image as a moderate still wins him the support of 17% of Democrats. Scott Brown leads Elizabeth Warren by 12 points with Independents, 48%-36%, but he has lost 20% of his Independent support since his 2010 victory.
Elizabeth Warren is more personally liked than Sen. Brown, and has a better net favorability rating, (+13) than the incumbent (+3). Brown leads Warren in favorability among moderates 50%-42%, but that eight point favorability advantage isn’t transferring to votes, as Warren leads Brown 42%-40% with moderates.
A big problem for Brown is that a majority of the state’s voters consider Republican ideology too conservative. Fifty four percent of those polled believed that GOP ideology is too conservative. Fifty seven percent of Massachusetts moderates think that Republican ideology is too conservative. In contrast, voters are split on Democratic ideology. By a margin of 41%-41% those surveyed thought that Democratic ideology was about right.
Elizabeth Warren has a higher favorability rating than Scott Brown with men, (45%-42%), and women (48%-44%). The gender gap is also present in this race as Warren has a huge net favorability advantage over Brown with women. Warren favorability with women is 48%-29% compared to Brown’s 44%-42%. Warren’s (+19) net favorability with women gives her a seventeen point advantage over Brown (+2).
All these being equal, the Elizabeth Warren/Scott Brown contest looks like a tossup, but there are two outside factors that may tip this race to the Democratic challenger. The presence of President Obama on the ballot in November is certain to help Warren. Elizabeth Warren enjoys a 66% approval rating with Massachusetts voters who supported Obama in 2008. If the Obama voters turn out strongly on Election Day, it will also be bad news for Scott Brown. Sen. Brown has 57% disapproval rating with Obama voters. Sixty seven percent of those who support President Obama are also supporting Elizabeth Warren.
Obama currently enjoys a 21 point lead over Romney in the state. President Obama’s popularity compared to Scott Brown’s decision to get behind Mitt Romney early could be a deciding factor in this race.
Brown may have also committed a colossal blunder by voting with the Republican Party in favor of the Blunt amendment. With one vote, Brown undercut his image as in independent voice and aligned himself with his party in the Republican war on women. If this becomes an issue in the fall, the Blunt voter is certain to come back to haunt Scott Brown.
The Massachusetts Senate race is shaping up to be a close contest all the way through Election Day. Scott Brown’s incumbency is being offset by Elizabeth Warren’s appeal as a candidate, but Warren’s trump card is President Obama. The President is certain to campaign with Warren in the fall, and the president’s popularity in the state could be just enough to get her over the hump and into the Senate.