Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren, Scott Brown Close in New Poll; Catholics Favor Brown

Sen. Scott Brown (above) endorsed fellow Massachusetts Republican Richard Tisei in his House campaign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Sen. Scott Brown (above) endorsed fellow Massachusetts Republican Richard Tisei in his House campaign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:24am

Sen. Scott Brown (R) and Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren continue to be locked in a statistical dead heat in their Massachusetts Senatorial race. According to a late April poll conducted by the nonpartisan MassINC Polling Group, Warren had an edge within the margin of error.

In a horse race among registered voters, the Democrat led Brown by 2 points, 43 percent to 41 percent.

But among those registered voters who were Catholic, Brown led by 7 points, 46 percent to 39 percent. And among white Catholics, the Senator led by 17 points.

The survey found 46 percent of all registered voters had a favorable view of Brown, while 33 percent had an unfavorable of him. Thirty-four percent had a favorably view of Warren, while 25 percent had an unfavorable view of her.

Warren and Brown took very different positions in the debate on the role of government and contraception earlier this year. The controversy began after the Obama administration promulgated a rule — part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — that required most employers to provide free contraception to employees. That requirement left the Roman Catholic Church apoplectic and, in response, the White House tweaked its policy to require insurance companies, rather than the employers themselves, to offer contraception to religiously-affiliated organizations. Warren supported the compromise, but Brown and other Republicans said religious institutions were still being forced to violate their beliefs.

Brown cast a procedural vote in favor of the contraceptive care amendment authored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would have allowed employers to opt out of providing contraception, among other things, if they found those services to be morally objectionable. Warren called it Brown’s “extreme amendment that threatened health care coverage for women and families.” It was defeated in the Senate by a slim margin.

The new poll sheds some light on how Catholics, who make up a broad swath of the Massachusetts population, feel about the candidates months after the controversy subsided.

The most recent controversy to hit the Massachusetts Senate race, which has burned white hot for months, is the revelation that Warren considers herself to be Native American and had listed herself as a minority. The Warren campaign fumbled that story rather severely and has yet to regain the media narrative.

MassINC polled 503 Bay State residents — of which 438 were registered voters — from April 25-28 by live telephone interview. The Senate survey was among those registered voters and had a margin of error of 4.7 points. The margin of error among the subgroup of Catholics was higher. The poll was part of a broader survey on other topics, but the political questions were asked first, so as not to bias the respondents.

[scribd id=93105692 key=key-xb3iflj5tljoiq120ee mode=list]