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Elizabeth Warren takes narrow lead in Massachusetts Senate polls

September 18, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • Elizabeth Warren speaks to reporters after a tour of the fire department in Lexington, Mass.
Elizabeth Warren speaks to reporters after a tour of the fire department… (Elise Amendola / AP Photo )

NEW YORK -- She’s been accused of dressing like a schoolmarm, wagging her finger too often and misstating her Native American roots. But for the first time in a long time, Elizabeth Warren seems to be winning over voters in her race against incumbent Scott Brown for a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts.

Warren overtook Brown for the first time in this race in a poll from Suffolk University/7NEWS released late Monday. She leads 48% to 44%, within the poll’s margin of error. In February, Brown was up by nine points in the same poll, and by one point in May.

It’s a lead that could be bolstered – or shattered – by the first televised debate between the two, which occurs Thursday night.

Two factors may be helping Warren pull ahead: her prominent role at the Democratic National Convention, where she spoke on the same night as Bill Clinton, and a new series of ads that feature supporters, rather than Warren herself.

“On the heels of the convention, she’s shored up her support among the core bases of the Democratic Party,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “She’s even whittling away a little bit of independents.”

The Suffolk poll is one of three post-convention polls to show Warren’s support trending up. A Western New England University poll conducted Sept. 6-13 showed likely voters preferring Warren to Brown 50% to 44%. That poll had a margin of error of 4.6%. A poll of registered voters in February by the same group showed Brown up by eight points, though he lost that lead by May.

A separate poll by Public Policy Polling shows Warren now leading Brown 48-46 after trailing him 49-44.

“The Massachusetts Senate race remains a toss-up,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, which leans Democratic. That poll has a margin of error of 3.3%. “But the momentum is clearly on Elizabeth Warren’s side now.”

Warren has had her share of problems on the campaign trail. In June, she was accused of misstating her Native American roots in order to advance her academic career. And analysts say she often seems more like a professor than a politician, and that she has problems connecting to the real people that her ads say she fights for.

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