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Public Policy Polling (pdf). 3/8-11. Massachusetts voters. MoE ±3.7%. (9/16-18 results):
Elizabeth Warren (D): 46 (46)
Scott Brown (R-inc): 41 (44)
Undecided: 13 (10)
It's been a loooong time since Public Policy Polling looked at the Senate race in Massachusetts; they were the very first pollster, back in September, to find Elizabeth Warren in the lead (that was back before she had cleared the primary field and the race was only starting to gel). Since then, we've seen the race go through two whole phases. First came fall, when PPP was confirmed by every subsequent poll also showing a Warren lead ... then came the last few months, where it seemed like some of her announcement bump wore off and most polls showed Republican incumbent Scott Brown leading instead.

Well, PPP's back after half a year, and they find that very little has changed. Warren is still at 46 percent, hardly a place where the champagne corks should start popping but a solid place for a challenger to be. And Brown has actually eroded a bit, down to 41 percent from 44 percent in September. That drop is probably just ordinary float with the margin of error, as his approvals have actually improved a smidge, to 45/42 (up from 44/45). It's unusual to see a candidate's vote share underperforming his approval; people more often don't approve but are grudgingly willing to vote for someone anyway. That's a phenonemon you usually only see in a very blue or very red state where you have an established politician that people generally like but who's from the wrong party, who simply can't overcome the state's partisan bent. (Warren, by contrast, is at 46/33 favorables, after previously being at 40/22.)

Brown's main problem is with independents; he leads by 12 points with them (48-36), but he won by 32 points with indies when he was elected in 2010. Democratic messaging about Brown as a reliable Republican vote seems to have had an effect on independents' perceptions of him. Currently, voters are split 41 to 41 on whether he's "an independent voice for Massachusetts" or "a partisan voice for the national Republican party;" that's improved from 47-41 in favor of "independent" last time.

Finally, it also seems like Republican messaging trying to tie Warren in with liberal academic elitism/"tenured radicals"/fill-in-the-anti-intellectual-talking-point-here isn't succeeding. By a 57-19 margin, the poll's respondents have a favorable impression of Warren's employer, Harvard University.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 10:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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