The race for Massachusetts Senate remains close according to the MassPulse Quarterly Poll, released today. Among registered voters, 40 percent support Elizabeth Warren, and 38 percent support Senator Scott Brown, the latest in a series of polls which have shown the two candidates essentially neck and neck.The partisan balance for registered voters seems fairly reasonable: 11% R / 34% D / 49% unenrolled / 6% unknown. That percentage is fairly close to the enrollment data released earlier this year. However, it's worth noting that this poll looks at registered voters, so Brown probably still has the edge for likely voters.
The crosstabs tell an interesting story: for Brown to pull ahead, he needs to solidify his standing with the middle. He crushes Warren among the poor and among the rich, but he lags with the income groups making between 25K and 125K a year. He beats Warren handily among those with a high school education or less, but falls increasingly behind her as voters go beyond a high school education: voters with a postgraduate degree choose Warren 54-32. Brown runs strongest in the outer Boston suburbs and Southeastern Massachusetts; Western Massachusetts is his weakest area. However, Brown needs to improve his margin in friendly areas if he hopes to win in November. In 2010, he led Coakley by around 15-20 points in the Southeastern Mass area; MassInc puts him falling 6 points behind Warren there.
The good news for Brown is that he still has a 50% favorability rating. Even many Democrats are not totally alienated from Brown---he even has a 40% favorability rating among them. Brown also has a strong lead among independents, a crucial group for any Bay State Republican. If Brown can pull together a message offering improvement for the middle class (a direction he seems to be going in), he could make gains in crucial demographics and pull off a win in November.