Two new polls released in Massachusetts over the weekend show Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren has taken the lead over Republican Sen. Scott Brown in their race for the Senate.
In a survey conducted by Western New England University (WNEU) the week of Sept. 6-13, Warren had a six-point lead over the freshman Senator, 50 to 44 percent. The poll of 444 likely voters had a margin of error of 4.6 percent. Among registered voters, Warren's lead was larger, 53 to 41 percent. The poll surveyed 545 registered voters with a margin of error of 4.2 percent. The last WNEU poll, taken in May , found Warren ahead by only two points.
Warren may be riding on the coattails of President Barack Obama's post-convention bump. Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute at Western New England University, said Warren's lead may be related to when the polling began. The poll began at the end of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., just two days after Warren delivered a prime-time speech ahead of Democratic superstar President Bill Clinton.
"This (her lead) may be not just due to her speech, but the overall enthusiasm Democrats have had coming out of their convention," Vercellotti said to the Springfield Republican. "The data shows that Democrats are more fired up right now than independents or Republicans."
A second poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) also showed Warren with the advantage, although by a smaller margin. Warren led Brown 48 to 46 percent, a seven-point gain for the Democrat since the last PPPpoll of the race, taken in August. The poll, taken between Sept. 13-16, surveyed 876 likely voters, with a margin of error of 3.3 percent.
Warren's lead in the PPP poll comes largely from shoring up her own party support. In the August poll, Warren only had the support of 73 percent of Democrats, with 20 percent preferring Brown. Warren now leads Brown 81 to 13 percent among members of her own party. The swing is almost exactly equal to her gains overall. "The Massachusetts Senate race remains a toss up," said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling, in a statement released with the poll. "But the momentum is clearly on Elizabeth Warren's side now."
Future polls will show if Warren's results are just a convention bump or a true swing in the race. The two candidates will begin a series of debates later this week that may determine the election. The first debate is sponsored by WBZ-TV, the Boston CBS affiliate, on Sept. 20. The second is will be held by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell on Oct. 1. The candidates then head to Springfield for a debate hosted by a Western Massachusetts media consortium on Oct. 10. The fourth and final debate will be hosted by a Boston media consortium on Oct. 30. All four debates will be televised.