The race for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts between Republican incumbent Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren is intensifying. As the fall sprint to election day begins, a new poll finds Warren has pulled ahead. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
The two candidates are preparing to square off Thursday in a televised debate, the first of four that will be held before the end of October. The debates could be very important, according to Tim Vercellotti, a professor of political science at Western New England University, and director of the university’s polling institute.
A new survey by the university’s polling institute, conducted in partnership with The Republican newspaper of Springfield found Warren leads Brown by six percentage points among likely voters, 50 percent to 44 percent. The sampling error is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.
The Polling Institute’s last survey of registered voters, done in late May, found the race to be a statistical dead heat. But, Warren, now appears to have solidified her base, with 89 percent of the likely voters who identify themselves as Democrats saying they’ll vote for her.
Brown leads Warren by 22 points among independent voters. He’ll need to widen that lead if he hopes to hold on to the seat he won in the special election. Vercellotti said women voters also are still a possible wild card.
The Brown campaign has put out a new ad, that features women saying Brown is pro-choice and for equal pay.
Critics point out that Brown has been endorsed by Massachusetts Citizens For Life, the state’s leading anti-abortion organization, and note he voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act.
The Massachusetts senate race is the most expensive congressional campaign in the country. The millions the candidates spent on ads over the summer to define themselves, appear to have paid off in shaping how voters perceive them.
Warren has taken a new tact in her campaign advertising, mentioning Brown by name for the first time. A new ad features a boxing trainer from Lowell who takes a few jabs at Brown.
Brown’s campaign quickly responded with a new ad of its own.
The Western New England University poll found likely voters viewed Warren as more empathetic than Brown. Both candidates were seen as roughly equal when the poll asked who has the best ideas for creating jobs in Massachusetts.
Brown’s job approval numbers have gone up, with 55 percent of registered voters approving of the job he’s doing as senator, up from 51 percent in late May.