Suffolk poll shows Brown up 9 over Warren in MA Senate race; Update: Brown op-ed supports Blunt bill on religious exemption from mandate

posted at 9:15 am on February 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

It’s early for significant polling in any Senate race, but this result from Suffolk University’s poll is an eye-opener.  Despite having won a special election two years ago, most people considered Republican Scott Brown a long shot to win his next election in deeply-blue Massachusetts, especially up against Elizabeth Warren.  Instead, Brown starts off the race up by nine over the Democrat:

Republican Scott Brown (49 percent) has a 9-point lead over Democrat Elizabeth Warren (40 percent), according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WHDH-Boston) poll of likely general election voters in Massachusetts. Nine percent were undecided, and 2 percent would choose someone else.

Brown also showed significant leads over two other potential Democratic candidates, besting Marisa DeFranco 55 percent to 22 percent and Jim King 57 percent to 21 percent.

“Scott Brown’s popularity and appeal are overpowering the efforts of Elizabeth Warren, who struggles to introduce herself to the larger pool of Massachusetts voters,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “Warren’s support does not have traction among independents.”

Massachusetts may vote strongly Democratic — all ten of its House seats are held by Democrats at the moment — but its electorate is mostly unaffiliated, with almost 52% being independent.  Brown has a 32-point lead among independents in this poll, 60/28.  Also, 60% of the overall electorate sees a benefit in having one Senator from each party as a more balanced representation in Washington, with only 36% disagreeing. Warren has to overcome both of those hurdles to gain on Brown, and she’s not likely to do either by pandering to the Occupy movement or mouthing their rhetoric.

Even with these results, it’s clear that Warren gives Democrats their best chance of beating Brown.  The other two candidates in the Democratic primary allow Brown to get solid majorities in a general-election matchup.  That’s not entirely a straight-up comparison, as support for the eventual nominee will coalesce once he or she has been chosen, but Brown’s 49% against Warren is an indicator that it will be tough to unseat him.

It’s very early in this race, and no one will remember this poll even by summer, let alone the fall.  Still, it’s interesting and somewhat cheering to see Brown in the driver’s seat at the beginning of the process.

Update: I know conservatives are hardly satisfied with Scott Brown, but I’m pretty sure that Martha Coakley wouldn’t have written this op-ed in today’s Boston Herald:

Republicans and Democrats don’t come together nearly enough these days, and when we do it’s usually because of something we all recognize as clearly out of line. It takes a really bad idea to reveal our shared convictions on issues bigger than politics. That is the case with the new mandate from the Obama administration requiring religious organizations to offer insurance coverage for practices that go against the teachings of their church, violate the tenets of their faith and step on their constitutional protections.

Basically the government is saying, “Just do what you’re told, and leave the moral questions to us.” This runs against religious liberty, the Constitution, the consciences of millions of Americans and the independent spirit of Massachusetts. We don’t take well to imperious commands from Washington, and if we meekly submit to this mandate, you can be sure that a lot more will follow. …

This latest mandate under government-controlled health care is one reason why I campaigned and voted against Obamacare in the first place. It operates by broad dictation from Washington, showing no respect for the judgment, needs or rights of individual Americans and the states. And it opens the door to endless abuses of power such as this latest mandate.

This is why I strongly support a bipartisan bill in the Senate that provides a conscience exemption from the Obamacare mandate. In effect, the bill would simply restore the relevant laws on conscience protection that existed before Obamacare removed them.

That’s probably a pretty bold statement in Massachusetts, although it really shouldn’t be.


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