The inevitable just happened in Massachusetts. Public Policy Polling (Sept. 16-18; 791 registered Massachusetts voters) released a poll producing, for the first time, highly competitive numbers in Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) re-election campaign. The Bay State is among the nation’s most reliable of Democratic Party voting entities and it was always likely that polls showing Brown consistently holding double-digit leads over his Democratic opponents would eventually dissipate. The new PPP data gives challenger Elizabeth Warren (D), the former Obama administration consumer advocate, a 46-44 percent advantage over Brown, the first time the senator has trailed in 2011.
Furthermore, Brown went into the negative column in job approval, also for the first time. According to the data, he posts a 44:45 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio. By contrast, Warren scored 40:22 percent when asked if people have a positive or negative personal opinion of her.
Clearly Ms. Warren is the Democrats’ best potential candidate. Against the party’s other contenders, the incumbent continues to score well. When paired with businessman and 2010 Senatorial special election candidate Alan Khazei, Brown leads 48-33 percent. Against Newton Mayor Setti Warren, the senator’s advantage is 47:32 percent. And, with state Rep. Tom Conroy (D) now in the race, the Republican has a substantial 50:31 percent edge.
The numbers now put the Massachusetts senate race back into the competitive category, where it will likely stay. Considering the Democrats’ overwhelming voter history and registration advantage here, a “toss-up” rating is again appropriate.