Elizabeth Warren, a popular figure on the left of the Democratic Party, is tied in a race to recapture the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat from Republican Scott Brown next year, according to a poll Thursday.
The poll by the University of Massachusetts puts Warren four points ahead of Brown among registered voters. Although that is within the 4.4 percent margin of error it is a strong showing given that until recently Brown was seen as well dug-in, while Warren is not yet the official Democratic candidate.
Warren, a Harvard law professor, has won liberal plaudits for her positions on populist issues of the kind raised by the Occupy Wall Street protests, particularly regarding banks’ lending practices.
President Barack Obama tapped Warren to establish the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, although she was then sidelined in the face of Republican opposition.
If she takes on Brown in November 2012 she will give her party a chance for revenge against the architect of one of the biggest upsets in recent Senate history. Brown stunned Democrats in 2010 when he won the seat vacated on Kennedy’s death by riding a tide of opposition to Obama’s health care reforms.
The poll gave Warren 43 percent and Brown 39 percent, with the Democrat getting strong support from women, lower income voters and young people, and the Republican maintaining a large lead among independent voters.
“These numbers could mean trouble for Scott Brown,” University of Massachusetts political scientist Brian Schaffner said in a statement. “The race is a dead heat and his support is well under 50 percent, which usually means difficulty for an incumbent, especially this far out from Election Day.”
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