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Poll: Warren Leads Brown in Race for U.S. Senate


Detailed poll results and analysis are available at and

Dec. 7, 2011

Poll: Warren Leads Brown in Race for U.S. Senate
Voters Say They Would Choose Democrat Over Republican if Election Was Today

LOWELL, Mass. – Challenger Elizabeth Warren apparently would beat incumbent Scott Brown if the election for the Massachusetts’ U.S. Senate seat were held today, according to a new UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll.

The independent, nonpartisan poll conducted by telephone over the last week found that 49 percent of 500 Massachusetts registered voters surveyed would vote for Warren and 42 percent would vote for Brown if they faced off in the general election. The margin of error on the poll is plus or minus 5.3 percentage points. 

The poll released in October by UMass Lowell and the Boston Herald, the first to measure a potential Brown-Warren matchup, had the candidates virtually even, with 41 percent of those surveyed saying they would likely vote for Brown and 38 percent for Warren next November and a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. 

Today’s poll found that Brown’s job approval is down 8 points to 45 percent and his favorability rating has slipped to 48 percent from 52 percent in the October poll. Warren’s favorable rating is 34 percent now compared to 30 percent in September, and her unfavorable rating is up 9 points to 27 percent. Fewer voters say they haven’t heard of her, 23 percent compared with 37 percent in the earlier poll. 

The survey also tested some messages in recent campaign ads aimed at the other candidate: 37 percent of voters said they are less likely to vote for Brown because he receives campaign support from Wall Street financial institutions and 2 percent said that makes them more likely to vote for him; 23 percent said Warren’s support for Occupy Wall Street makes them less likely to vote for her and 16 percent said they would be more likely to do so.

“The good news for Elizabeth Warren is that more voters now know who she is and she appears to be developing an early advantage over Sen. Brown. Her poll numbers have gone up since September while Brown’s have held steady,” said Prof. Frank Talty, director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion, which commissioned the poll with its partner, the Boston Herald. “The bad news for her, though, is the negative TV ads appear to be driving up the number of voters who view her unfavorably. Sen. Brown may have been hurt by negative ads, as well. Less than half of the voters in our survey view him favorably now and less than a majority approve of his job performance as senator.”

Other findings from the poll released today include:
  • Eighteen percent more of those surveyed said Warren (47 percent to 29 percent for Brown) would do a better job pursuing regulation of Wall Street financial institutions. Ten percent more (43 percent for Warren, 33 percent for Brown) said she would do a better job looking out for the economic interests of middle-class families.
  • Both candidates receive nearly the same support among male voters surveyed (47 percent for Brown, 46 percent for Warren) and Warren leads among women (51 percent to Brown’s 38 percent).
  • Warren has a 20-point lead among voters who live in Boston and the suburbs inside Route 128 (58 percent to 38 percent for Brown) and the candidates are tied at 44 percent support in the rest of the state.
  • Brown has more support among voters with household incomes of more than $100,000 (52 percent vs. 45 percent for Warren) and Warren leads voters below that income threshold (51 percent vs. 37 percent for Brown).
  • Warren leads among voters with postgraduate education, 62 percent to 34 percent for Brown, while the candidates are closer among voters with bachelor’s degrees (49 percent for Warren and 42 percent for Brown) and are nearly even (45 percent for Brown and 44 percent for Warren) among voters with associate’s degrees or less educational attainment.
  • The poll also looked at voters’ views on two Republican presidential candidates. Forty percent said they have a favorable opinion of Mitt Romney and 48 percent were unfavorable, compared to 48 percent who were favorable and 43 percent unfavorable in the UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll released in October. Newt Gingrich received a 22 percent favorability rating vs. 56 percent unfavorable in this poll. (Voters were not asked about Gingrich in the previous poll.)
  • Voters’ opinions of President Barack Obama were virtually unchanged compared with the October poll – he received a 61 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable rating in this poll compared to 61 percent favorable and 34 percent unfavorable earlier.
  • Thirty-four percent of Massachusetts voters surveyed opposed the Occupy Wall Street movement, another 26 percent supported it and 29 percent were neutral.
  • Eighteen percent of the voters polled said they support the tea party, while 44 percent said they oppose it and 29 percent were neutral.

“Massachusetts voters are displaying remarkably consistent support for President Obama, with 61 percent viewing him favorably, the same percentage that we found in our earlier poll, and the highest support for any of the elected officials and candidates tested in both that poll and today’s,” said Talty. “With President Obama at the top of the November 2012 ballot, that support could play a role in the result for the undercard Senate race. In contrast, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s support among voters in the Commonwealth has declined since the earlier poll to the point where more now view him unfavorably than favorably.”

The independent, nonpartisan poll was conducted for the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and Boston Herald under the direction of independent survey researcher Mike Mokrzycki – former head of polling for the Associated Press whose other clients include NBC News, where he manages the network’s exit poll operation, and the Pew Research Center. 

Results of the UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll are based on a probability (random) sample of 500 Massachusetts registered voters. A probability basis provides theoretical grounds for generalizing results from the sample to all registered voters in the state. About two-thirds of the interviews were by landline telephones and the rest were by cell phone to assure maximum coverage of the population. Telephone sampling also reaches respondents who do not have access to the Internet. 
UMass Lowell is a comprehensive, national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 15,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering, education, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, liberal arts, management, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world

Christine Gillette, (w) 978-934-2209, (c) 978-758-4664,