A new WBUR poll (PDFs — topline, crosstabs) finds a turn in the U.S. Senate race. Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott Brown now leads his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, 47 to 43 percent. The survey of likely voters, conducted Oct. 5-7, has a 4.4 percent margin of error.
In WBUR's last Senate poll, conducted in September, Warren led brown by two points.
Working Across The Aisle
Brown has poured beer for customers at Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain, but the long table near his autographed picture is definitely Elizabeth Warren territory. Amy Trueblood, of West Roxbury, doesn't buy Brown's claims of working across the aisle.
"He says he's bipartisan, but that's only compared to all the Republicans that are in Congress," Trueblood said. "Currently, they're so extreme that any movement away from the far right makes you look like you're bipartisan, but I don't see that he's really going to be as independent as he claims that he is."
But Trueblood is in the minority. Massachusetts voters cherish their reputation for balancing their support between Democrats and Republicans, and Brown benefits from his record as a candidate willing to vote against his own party.
The latest WBUR poll finds that 60 percent of Brown's supporters thinks it's "very important" that the candidate they support "will compromise with the other party more often when in the Senate." Only 41 percent of Warren supporters think that's an important consideration.
Throughout the year, Brown has tried to portray Warren as someone voters can't trust. It began with questioning her motives for listing herself as Native American in a law school registry. And the WBUR poll finds that this is working to Brown's advantage with a sizable minority of voters. Thirty-one percent of Brown's supporters see the issue as "very important."
In recent weeks, Brown has broadened his attack on Warren's credibility. He has questioned her role in advising an insurance company defending claims of victims of asbestos contamination. That's an issue that resonates with Jason Cherson, of West Roxbury.
"I like Scott Brown because I think he's honest. I think he tells the truth. I think Elizabeth Warren, I think she tells lies," Cherson said. "I just can't believe anything that she is talking about as far as being a lawyer, attorney for the asbestos people. She's an attorney for big business."
Warren actually helped Travelers Insurance set up a trust fund for victims of asbestos contamination.
Cherson also sees Warren as an outsider.
"She's only lived here, I think, for two years in the state, and I just don't believe anything she says," Cherson said.
Warren has actually lived in Massachusetts for the past 17 years*. But the perception that she is an outsider could work against her among some voters. Thirty percent of Brown supporters say the candidate that "seems more similar to the people" they know is "very important." But 31 percent of Warren supporters say the same.
Warren's biggest advantage remains among people who consider which party "will control the U.S. Senate after this election," Seventy-one percent of Warren supporters say that's "very important." But for now, that's not important enough in most voters' minds to offset their preference for Scott Brown.
Correction: An earlier version of this online report incorrectly stated that Warren has lived in Massachusetts for seven years. She has lived here for 17 years.
This program aired on October 9, 2012.