Elizabeth Warren (D): 46 (46)
Scott Brown (R-inc): 46 (41)
Undecided: 8 (13)
Get used to seeing that same headline for the next four months: Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren and Republican incumbent Scott Brown are embroiled in what seems like the nation’s most tightly knotted Senate race. Case in point, Talking Points Memo’s Polltracker average on the Massachusetts race currently gives Brown a 0.1 percent advantage over Warren: 45.1 to 45.0.
Warren’s vote share has been remarkably consistent over the last few months, staying at 46 since Public Policy Polling’s previous poll (in March), and hitting 45 and 47 in May polls from WNEU and Suffolk, respectively. Brown has bounced around more, but this month PPP catches him on a bit of an upward bounce, with his approvals significantly better than last time; he’s at 51/38 approvals now, up from 45/42 last time. Unusually, it’s a race between two candidates that people generally like. Warren’s favorables are a similar 47/38, though that’s down a bit from 46/33 last time. Considering that Warren spent much of the last few months on the defensive over allegations of overstating her Native American ancestry, that small decline suggests that that whole flap wasn’t anywhere near the drag on her chances that the Beltway media made it out to be.
Probably the best set of numbers for Warren aren’t the toplines, though, but the composition of the remaining undecideds. People who haven’t decided on the Senate but who have decided on the presidential race break in favor of Barack Obama over Mitt Romney, 60-13. Sixty-two percent of those undecideds are independents, while 31 percent are Democrats and only 7 percent are Republicans. That, in itself, suggests that the majority of them will break in Warren’s direction.
However, as PPP’s Tom Jensen reminds us in his write-up, the undecideds feel favorably about Brown as well as Warren. Brown has 43/19 approvals from undecideds, not much different from Warren’s 40/15 favorables among undecideds. Undecideds aren’t choosing between the lesser of two evils, but between two candidates they claim to like, so Brown’s skill at building a post-partisan brand for himself, smoke and mirrors as it may be, may still help him win over some of those Democratic-leaning undecideds. As blue as Massachusetts usually is, this one has all the signs of going down to the wire in November.