Public Policy Polling is out with the latest Senate poll, and it shows – surprise! – that the race is a tie. It also shows, consistently with several previous polls, that Cherokee-gate has had almost no effect on the race.
The horserace numbers are 46-46. Warren has polled at 46% in each of PPP’s last three polls. Brown has actually improved his showing slightly, from 41% in September to 46% now. Both candidates are in positive fav/unfav territory, Brown (51/38) slightly moreso than Warren (47/38). As PPP observes, “Warren was at 46/33 in March so her negatives have climbed a little bit since then, but it could be a lot worse given the press coverage she’s received since that time.”
Brown is polling quite well with independents – PPP has him at 57-33, which is in the ballpark of what he needs to win, though probably not quite enough (I’d say he needs to win indies by 30 points). PPP’s bottom line, I think, is exactly right:
This race is ultimately going to be decided by Obama independents. The undecideds for Senate are planning to vote for Obama over Mitt Romney by a 60/13 margin. 62% of them are independents to 31% who are Democrats and just 7% who are Republicans. On paper it seems like Warren has a lot more room to grow. But those who haven’t made up their minds yet like both candidates. Brown has a 43/19 approval rating with them and Warren’s favorability is 40/15. Unlike in the Presidential race where swing voters are trying to decide who they think is the lesser of two evils, in this contest voters are trying to choose between two candidates who they see pretty favorably. There are already a lot of Obama/Brown voters and it’s quite possible there will be more of them.
The Massachusetts Senate contest has been tight ever since Elizabeth Warren announced she was getting into the field, and there’s not much reason to think that’s going to change any time soon.
I continue to think that the People’s Pledge is a huge deal in this race, and a huge boon to Elizabeth Warren, who by now would have been deluged by millions of dollars worth of Karl Rove attacks if it weren’t for that agreement. At some point, I wonder whether Team Brown will decide that it’s worth paying the 50% to charity in order to have those ads running; after all, they’d effectively be getting a discount on the cost of advertising for which they otherwise would have to pay full price. But, of course, Brown would also at that point be seen as reneging on a deal that he himself called for when the going got tough. Interesting times ahead.