A new WMUR poll of Massachusetts finds Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren holding a narrow lead over Republican Senator Scott Brown, 46%-43%.
The WMUR poll shows the race between Warren and Brown to be as close as close can be. Not only is Warren’s three point lead within the poll’s margin of error, but both candidates hold positive favorable ratings. Sen. Brown’s has a favorable/unfavorable split of 50%/29%. The lesser known Elizabeth Warren has a favorable/unfavorable split of 39%-29%, with 15% undecided and 14% never heard of her. Scott Brown’s highest favorability ratings by demographic are with voters age 30-44 (59%), and women age 18-49, (53%). Elizabeth Warren’s best favorable numbers by demographic are with voters age 60+ (51%), and women age 60 and over (50%).
One of the reasons why this election is so close is that Scott Brown has some support among Democrats. Brown’s favorability rating with Democrats is 29%. Less than 50% (46%) of Democrats hold an unfavorable opinion of Scott Brown. Another red flag for Warren is that 14% Democrats said that they would vote for Brown if the election was held today. Only 2% of Republicans said that they would vote for Warren.
The reasons why Elizabeth Warren has a small lead within the margin of error is that early on this election seems to be dividing along age and income lines. Warren leads Brown 55%-39% with voters who earn less than $25,000 a year. She also leads with voters who earn $25,000-$75,000. Brown leads narrowly with those who earn $75,000-$150,000, 47%-44%, and he leads with those who earn more than $150,000, 51%-40%. In terms of age, Warren leads with younger voters age 18-29, 57%-29%. Brown leads with voters age 30-44, 58%-34%. The candidates are virtually tied with voters 45-59 (44%-42%, Brown), and Warren leads with voters over age 60, 57%-34%.
If the Senate election is close, the popularity of and turnout for the presidential candidates at the top of the ticket may decide the race, and if this happens Scott Brown is going to be in some trouble. President Obama’s favorability rating in Massachusetts is 60%. Despite being the former governor of the state, Mitt Romney has a higher unfavorable rating (46%) than favorable rating (39%). In the head to head match up, Obama leads Romney, 55%-34%. Obama gets the support of 88% of Democrats and leads with both men (54-37%) and women (57%-32%).
Despite the fact that she remains unknown by a large section of the electorate, Elizabeth Warren has been able to lead or stay tied with incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown. This contest looks like it may the closest Senate election in the nation. Rarely, do you see an election where both candidates are liked by the voters, but Scott Brown’s likeability may be offset by Mitt Romney’s negative and cynical campaign.
The Massachusetts Senate may be decided by the potential Obama/Romney contest at the top of the ballot. President Obama should be able to use his popularity in the state to help boost Elizabeth Warren, whereas Mitt Romney’s presence on the ballot may do nothing but harm to Scott Brown. If the Obama voters turn out and vote for Warren along with the president, it should give her enough support to win the contest.
Scott Brown has the opposite problem. If Mitt Romney remains unpopular, he may actually push voters, especially those Democrats who have a favorable opinion of Brown, away from the Republican and towards supporting Warren. If the Senate election is close, the Election Day climate (a popular Democratic president at the top of the ballot in a Democratic state) should favor Elizabeth Warren.
The biggest task that Warren faces is to convince those Democrats who hold a favorable view of Brown to support her in November. While Obama has the support of 88% of Democrats, Warren gets only 77% of members of her own party against Brown. Her success or failure in doing this along with increasing her support among Obama voters may make the difference between a narrow defeat and bringing Ted Kennedy’s seat back to the Democratic Party.