THE STATE HOUSE — Elizabeth Warren leads U.S. Sen. Scott Brown by four points in the latest Suffolk University/7NEWS poll, the third survey released in the past two days that shows a slight lead for Warren and a race currently trending in her direction.
According to the poll conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center, Warren leads Brown 48 percent to 44 percent among likely voters in the Nov. 6 general election exactly 50 days from now. Eight percent of voters responded they were still undecided.
The survey sampled 600 likely voters in telephone interviews conducted Sept. 13 through Sept. 16, after Warren introduced former President Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. The poll had a margin of error of four points.
“Fresh off a new TV ad buy and a prime-time convention speech, Elizabeth Warren has improved her popularity and overtaken Scott Brown head-to-head,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “She enters the debate phase of the Senate campaign as the slight favorite, but the race is still fluid, and to win she must avoid peaking too soon.”
Brown and Warren are scheduled to go head-to-head for the first time Thursday night in a live, televised debate on WBZ-TV, though Brown said on Monday there’s a chance the Senate session in Washington could conflict.
Gov. Deval Patrick also remains popular in Massachusetts two years after winning re-election to a second term, with 59 percent of respondents indicating they have a favorable opinion of the governor compared to 31 percent unfavorable, and 56 percent believing Massachusetts is heading in the right direction.
All three November ballot questions also won favor with those polled. Sixty-four percent of voters support allowing a terminally ill patient to self-administer life-ending medication prescribed by a doctor, compared to 27 percent who oppose the idea. Similarly, 59 percent of voters favor legalization of medical marijuana, while 35 percent are opposed.
Despite a late compromise reached in the Legislature and signed by Patrick to address the issue and stated efforts by both sides to discourage voters from approving Question 1 regarding access to auto repair information, 79 percent said they were inclined to vote in favor.
Polls released over the weekend by Western New England University Polling Institute and Public Policy Polling showed Warren ahead of Brown by six points and two points respectively, all positive changes for the Democrat from earlier surveys.
Brown’s support among voters likely to cast their ballots for President Obama in November is also waning, perhaps explaining the shift toward Warren. While in May, 24 percent of Obama voters said they would cross parties to vote for Brown, only 19 percent in the most recent survey said they would split the ticket.
“The Democratic National Convention appears to have connected the dots for some voters in Massachusetts,” Paleologos said. “They’ve linked Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and congressional candidate Joseph Kennedy, whose district includes southeastern Massachusetts. Warren benefitted not only from her own speech, but from the oratory of others, both inside and outside of Massachusetts.”
Sixty-three percent of Massachusetts voters have a favorable opinion of the president, and Obama was the choice of 64 percent of those polled, compared to 31 percent for former Gov. Mitt Romney. Only 32 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of the former governor, according to the poll.
Brown led Warren by one point in the last Suffolk University poll conducted in May. Though Brown’s favorability ratings remained virtually unchanged since May in the latest poll and he remains very popular, Warren’s favorability has increased significantly in those four months.
Sixty percent of voters said they had a favorable opinion of Brown compared to 29 percent unfavorable, one point better than he polled in May. Warren’s favorability rating increased from 43 percent in May to 52 percent in September, compared to 33 percent who still have an unfavorable opinion of the law professor.
While 79 percent of voters are aware of the controversy surrounding Warren’s claim of Native American heritage, which Brown disputes, only 32 percent believe she benefited from listing herself as a minority. Similarly, only 34 percent believe a vote for Brown is a vote for the interests of Wall Street.
Regarding the national uproar over the Republican Party’s stance against abortion in its party platform, 36 percent said it made them less likely to vote for Brown while 42 percent said it made no difference, and only 14 percent think Brown is “anti-women.”
Forty-one percent of voters trust Brown more to tell the truth compared to 38 percent who trust Warren, and 49 percent think Warren will better represent the middle class compared to 42 percent who think that of Brown.
Brown, however, leads Warren by six points when voters are asked who will better represent the interests of Massachusetts, and is considered by 50 percent of voters to be a more likely independent voice in the U.S. Senate. Brown also leads 45 percent to 25 percent when voters were asked who is running a better campaign.
Fifty-percent of voters also see value in having two senators from different parties representing Massachusetts in Washington, while 45 percent think it has no benefit.
Former 2010 gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein, running for president under the Green Party, received 2 percent of the vote in the poll, just shy of the 3 percent she will need to garner in Massachusetts for the Green Party to remain a legally recognized political party in the state.