Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Senator Scott Brown are deadlocked in the Massachusetts race for U.S. Senate, with Warren leading Brown by three points, 46 percent to 43 percent, according to a WBUR poll released Tuesday.
The results point to a tightening in a race that many consider to be one of the most significant Senate contests in the country this election cycle, according to former Boston City Councillor Lawrence S. DiCara ’71.
“I think that this is going to be nip and tuck until the very end,” DiCara said. “I don’t view this as one where either candidate is going to get much more than 50 percent.”
Warren led Brown by seven points in an early December poll. In an October poll, Brown was in the lead.
Warren’s three-point lead is within the poll’s margin of error.
Republican Brown’s popularity among traditionally Democratic working-class voters has led political analysts to predict the race will be based more on how voters relate to candidates than specific policy issues.
“The most important factor is going to be their capacity to connect with people,” Harvard Kennedy School lecturer M. Marty Linsky said. “That’s what’s going to make the most difference. We don’t know very much about how Elizabeth Warren is going to be experienced by people.”
Both Warren and Brown have tried to fashion themselves as middle-of-the-road, common sense candidates, experts said. Brown has tried to focus attention to his bipartisan voting record and middle-class values, while Warren has emphasized her work as a consumer advocate.
The WBUR poll suggests that the candidates’ efforts to relate to voters have been effective thus far. Of the 503 Massachusetts voters polled, half said they have a favorable view of Brown while 39 percent reported a favorable view of Warren.
On issues pertaining to the candidates' backgrounds and values, voters said they felt similarly about the two candidates.
When asked if each candidate would stand up for them in the Senate and if they understand middle class families, voters responded equally in favor of both candidates.
Democratic political consultants said Warren’s performance in this poll bodes well for her campaign, which is still relatively young and unknown in Massachusetts.
Fifteen percent of voters polled by WBUR said they had never heard of Warren, who launched her campaign in October.
“The surprise is that she’s neck and neck without huge numbers of people knowing who she is yet,” Democratic political consultant Michael Goldman said. “She hasn’t even put up her first commercial yet.”
“These are very good numbers for her and very tough numbers for Brown because he doesn’t have numbers to grow and she does,” Goldman added.
—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached at email@example.com.