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Poll: Elizabeth Warren, Scott Brown in dead heat

May 24, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • Democratic candidate for the Senate Elizabeth Warren, center, faces reporters during a news conference at Liberty Bay Credit Union headquarters, in Braintree, Mass.
Democratic candidate for the Senate Elizabeth Warren, center, faces reporters… (Steven Senne / Associated…)

In spite of the attention paid to the controversy over Elizabeth Warren’s purported Native American heritage, the Democratic Senate hopeful has tightened the race against incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, according to new polling.

The race is now well within the margin of error of the latest Suffolk University/7NEWS poll, with Brown holding a single point lead over Warren, 48% to 47%, with 5% of voters undecided. The numbers show a steady rise for Warren, who in February was 9 points behind Brown, 49% to 40%.

“This leaves both campaigns no choice but to spend tens of millions of dollars in an all-out war to woo the 5% of voters who will decide this election,” David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, said.

Or, gauging from an eight-point increase in Warren’s unfavorable rating to 35%, and Brown’s stable 28% unfavorable rating, Brown’s campaign may be able to dissuade Warren supporters from backing their candidate on election day.

But the current line of attack from the GOP, focusing on the Boston Herald scoop that she had been listed as a minority in the law school directory during her stint at Harvard, hasn’t been as effective as Brown’s campaign would have liked, if the poll’s findings hold true.

Though 72% of Massachusetts voters are aware of the heritage controversy, a plurality of 49% think she’s telling the truth about her small Native American background, 28% think she’s lying and 23% have yet to form an opinion. More think that she didn’t benefit from being listed as a minority than do, 45% to 41%, and a resounding 69% believe the story isn’t of any significance, compared to 27% who say it is.

Brown’s campaign has gone so far as to try to raise money off of Warren’s scandal, sending out an email to supporters highlighting their points of contention with the controversy, and making the call for donations.

“In the academic world, when you fabricate a fictitious background for yourself, the consequences are serious - especially when the university you work for uses that false information to misrepresent the diversity of its faculty,” the email, signed by Brown’s campaign manager Jim Barnett, read. “Yet, what do we hear from Harvard and Professor Warren? Silence.”

One of Warren’s attacks against Brown, alleging that his priorities lie with Wall Street instead of voters, has met with as little success as the heritage controversy, with 55% disagreeing that a vote for Brown is a vote for Wall Street, and 33% agreeing. Voters were split, 43% to 42%, marginally in favor of Brown returning $50,000 donated to his campaign by JP Morgan Chase employees, following the firm’s multibillion-dollar debacle.

The poll, conducted between May 20-22 via telephone interviews, surveyed 600 likely voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.

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