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Scott Brown's 2010 special election victory (by town);
a repeat is looking less likely

Public Policy Polling (PDF). 9/16-18. Massachusetts voters. MoE ±3.5% (6/2-5 results):

Elizabeth Warren (D): 46 (32)
Scott Brown (R-inc): 44 (47)
Undecided: 10 (21)

Alan Khazei (D): 33 (31)
Scott Brown (R-inc): 48 (50)
Undecided: 18 (19)

Setti Warren (D): 32 (23)
Scott Brown (R-inc): 47 (48)
Undecided: 21

Bob Massie (D): 31 (25)
Scott Brown (R-inc): 49 (48)
Undecided: 21 (27)

Tom Conroy (D): 31
Scott Brown (R-inc): 50
Undecided: 18

Wow. What a difference weeks of sustained, positive free media coverage can make, huh? Back in June, Elizabeth Warren was in the same low-30s, largely unknown, Democratic placeholder-type position as every other possible candidate. But because national Democrats and an array of progressive organizations took Warren's candidacy seriously, the local press was forced to as well. So even though Warren has yet to air a single ad on TV, her favorability rating jumped from 21-17 to 40-22. It's particularly impressive that he positives increased at four times the rate of her negatives.

What's also happened is that this race is turning into a traditional D versus R matchup. Scott Brown no longer floats on water: His job approvals have dropped from 48-36 to 44-45 over the same time span. Brown's continued survival always involved him putting up exceptional numbers among independents and Democrats, given the small number of Republicans in the state. His ratings have dropped with the first two groups (rather dramatically with indies, in fact), but have, somewhat perversely, gone up among members of his own party. That's exactly what Brown doesn't want to happen: He needs Republicans to be wary enough of him so that enough non-Republicans aren't wary of him.

This poll is such a surprise that you've got to look under the hood to see if anything is up here. In fact, the opposite is the case. In PPP's June poll (which no one was questioning), the demographic makeup was 46 percent Democrats, 15 percent Republicans and 40 percent independents. In this survey, indies and Dems are flipped (40 D, 15 R, 45 I), so if anything this poll ought to be less favorable to Democrats. And the 2008 vote shows the same 26-point spread that Obama actually won the state by. So it's hard to see how this is anything but a clean read.

That doesn't mean this survey might not be an outlier; to date, the previous best showing for any Democrat was a MassInc survey from three weeks ago that had Warren down nine to Brown. So now we'll wait to see what other pollsters show. In the meantime, this is a huge shot in the arm for Warren's nascent campaign, and will have to make the other Democrats in the race consider whether to stay in. (Tom Jensen tweets that she's way ahead in the primary.) And if this poll remains uncontradicted, it shows that this will be a very serious race—and an excellent chance for a Democratic pickup next year. Game on!

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Sep 20, 2011 at 08:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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