Scott Brown Continues To Hang On In Massachusetts
Scott Brown continues to stay competitive with Democratic Senate nominee Elizabeth Warren in a state that typically goes Democratic. Indeed, in a newly released poll from Public Policy Polling, Brown has a lead outside the margin of error:
PPP’s newest poll on the Massachusetts Senate race finds Scott Brown opening up a 5 point lead, 49-44. This is the first time Brown has led in one of our polls since June of 2011. Our last poll, in June of this year, found a tie and the two before that had modest leads for Elizabeth Warren.
Brown continues to do well because of his personal popularity and because voters see him as different from the Republican Party as a whole. 53% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 36% who disapprove. Incumbents with those kinds of approval numbers generally don’t lose. Brown’s approval has improved a net 14 points from March when he was at +3 (45/42). Warren’s numbers are headed in the other direction. On that poll her favorability was 46/33 and now it’s 46/43- her negatives have risen 10 points over the last five months while her positives have remained unchanged.
Massachusetts voters see the GOP as a whole as being extreme- 56% think it’s too conservative to only 27% who consider it to be ‘about right.’ But they don’t feel that way about Brown- just 30% think he’s too conservative to 54% who believe he’s ‘about right’ ideologically. 30% of voters who think Brown’s too conservative is less than the 41% who think that Warren is too liberal. Additionally 49% regard Brown more as someone who has been ‘an independent voice for Massachusetts’ compared to 38% who feel he’s been more a ‘partisan voice for the national Republican Party.’
Brown has the lead on Warren thanks to a 58-32 advantage with independents, comparable to what he won against Martha Coakley in 2010. He has Republicans strongly unified around him (91-7) and he’s pulling a pretty decent amount of Democratic support, 20%, with just 73% of her party’s voters committed to Warren at this point.
The one number that could pose a problem for Brown is that a slight majority of Massachusetts voters say that they would like Democrats to maintain control of the Senate. However, it’s possible that Brown’s independent streak can overcome that partisan stance. Indeed, he displayed that partisan streak yesterday when he spoke out againstthe no-compromises abortion plank in the GOP platform:
Today, U.S. Senator Scott Brown sent the following letter to Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, calling on the Republican Party to be more inclusive on the issue of abortion. The text of the letter is below:
Dear Chairman Priebus:
First, let me say thank you for your leadership of our party. I know how hard you work on behalf of making our party and our nation stronger. I am writing to you on an issue of importance that I believe has the potential to strengthen us as a party by sending a message to all Americans that we are broadly inclusive and open to different points of view.
As you know, every four years the Republican Party crafts a platform intended to give voters an understanding of our Party’s principles and policies on important issues of the day.
The Party is currently engaged in the process of developing its 2012 platform. Media reports indicate that the Platform Committee will consider draft language opposing a woman’s right to choose and supporting a constitutional amendment banning abortion. I believe this is a mistake because it fails to recognize the views of pro-choice Republicans like myself.
Even while I am pro-choice, I respect those who have a different opinion on this very difficult and sensitive issue. Our Party platform should make the same concession to those of us who believe in a woman’s right to choose.
If we are to grow and succeed in all parts of this great nation, we must be a “big-tent” party. There are people of goodwill on both sides of the abortion issue, and we need to send a message to voters that there is room in the Republican Party for differing perspectives.
The Party platform is, of course, not a platform for every Republican candidate. In Massachusetts, I’ll be running on my own platform, and focusing on how to create jobs and get our economy moving again, strengthening our employer community by keeping taxes low and reducing burdensome regulations, and controlling spending through passage of a balanced budget amendment.
The rest of the letter is at the link, but you get the point. Brown will be denounced by many in the party as a RINO, but I’ve got a feeling his constituents will feel quite differently.
In the race as a whole, Brown and Warren remain fairly close. The RCP Average has Brown up by .7, but as you can see by the chart the race is neck and neck:
Warren still has the fact that this is Massachusetts and that Massachusetts is going to go heavily for Barack Obama in November. Indeed, a Republican Senate candidate hasn’t won an election in a Presidential election year in Massachusetts since a guy named Frederick Gillett did it in the 1924. All the same, Brown continues to hold his own against her and the voters of Massachusetts seem generally pleased about his record so I wouldn’t count him out at all.