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Published by: masslive on Sep 17, 2012
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Perceptions of Senate candidates come into focus as campaigns advance
Voters’ perceive clear differences between the candidates for t
he U.S.Senate when it comes to health care policy, regulating Wall Street, and working with senatorsfrom the opposing political party.The latest survey from the Western New England University Polling Institute, conducted inpartnership with The Republican newspaper of Springfield, MA and MassLive.com, found thatlikely voters give Democrat Elizabeth Warren the edge on ideas for improving health care,cracking down on Wall Street, and for generally caring more about people like them.The survey also found that voters were more likely to credit Republican incumbent Scott Brownwith having the experience to represent Massachusetts effectively in Washington, and being ableto work with senators from both parties to solve problems.Likely voters ranked the candidates roughly evenly concerning being honest and trustworthy andhaving the best ideas to create jobs in Massachusetts. The survey of 444 likely voters, conductedSept. 6-13, 2012, was part of a larger sample of 545 registered voters. The margin of error for thesample of 444 likely voters is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points, and plus or minus 4.2percentage points for the sample of all registered voters.
“The candidates’ attempts to play to their strengths in the campaign seem to be reaching voters,”
said Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute and a political science professor at Western
 New England University. “Distinctive portraits of the candidates emerge from the polling data.”
 In terms of general political ideology, voters were more likely to place Brown to the center orright of center on the spectrum, and Warren to the left. Thirty-two percent of likely votersidentified Brown as moderate, 42 percent described him as somewhat conservative and 7 percentlabeled him very conservative. Thirty-seven percent of likely voters rated Warren as very liberal,28 percent said somewhat liberal, and 13 percent said moderate.The survey also asked voters:
Regardless of how you plan to vote in the Senate election, please tell me whether you think each of the following statements applies more to Scott Brown or
Elizabeth Warren:”
Is honest and trustworthy
Has the experience to effectively represent Massachusetts in Washington
Cares more about people like you
Can work with senators from both parties to solve problems
Has the best ideas for creating jobs in Massachusetts
Will be tougher on Wall Street
Has the best ideas to improve health careWarren
, a Harvard Law School professor who helped to establish the federal government’s
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was perceived by more voters as likely to be tougher onWall Street.The margin was 59 percent for Warren to 25 percent for Brown among likely voters, and 57percent to 25 percent among all registered voters. Warren had led Brown by 23 points on thisdimension
among all registered voters when the Polling Institute last asked about the candidates’
traits in a Feb. 23
March 1, 2012 survey.Voters also viewed Warren as more empathetic than Brown. Forty-seven percent of likely voters
said Warren “cares more about people like you,” compared to 36 percent for Brown. The margin
for the larger sample of registered voters was 51 percent for Warren and 33 percent for Brown,compared to a six-point lead for Warren on this trait in the Feb. 23
March 1, 2012 poll.Brown, who won a special election to the Senate in January 2010 to serve the remainder of thelate Senator
Edward Kennedy’s term, has sought to portray himself as able to work with
members of both parties in the Senate. The message has resonated with voters, with 51 percent of 
likely voters saying Brown “can work with senators from both parties to solve problems,” while
30 percent said Warren.
Brown also holds a sizable advantage over Warren in terms of who “has the experience toeffectively represent Massachusetts in Washington.” Forty
-eight percent of likely voters gave theedge to Brown, compared to 33 percent for Warren.The candidates run roughly evenly on who is perceived as honest and trustworthy
38 percent of likely voters said Brown, while 35 percent said Warren. Warren, however, led Brown on thisdimension 39 percent to 34 percent among all registered voters,
and Warren’s standing
among allregistered voters represented an eight-point gain for her since the Feb. 23- March 1, 2012 poll.Warren and Brown also were roughly even among likely voters
on the question of who “has the
best ideas for creating jobs in Massachusetts,
while Warren has made significant gains on thisissue among all registered voters. Thirty-nine percent of likely voters gave Warren the nod onideas for job creation, and 35 percent said Brown. Among all registered voters, Warren led
Brown 41 percent to 32 percent, which represented a 14-point gain for Warren and a four-pointdrop for Brown since the Feb. 23
March 1, 2012 survey.
Voters also cited Warren in larger numbers for having “the best ideas to improve health care,”
with 42 percent of likely voters pointing to Warren and 25 percent citing Brown. Among allregistered voters, Warren led Brown on the issue by a margin of 23 points
45 percent to 22percent. Warren had led Brown on the issue among all registered voters by 14 points in the Feb.23
March 1, 2012 poll.Voters
 perceptions of the candidates’ ideas for job creation
and health care in the latest surveyalso provided possible openings for both candidates. When asked who has the best ideas forimproving health care, nearly one-fourth of likely voters said they did not know or declined toanswer the question. Nineteen percent of likely voters could not or would not offer a responsewhen asked who has the best ideas for creating jobs in Massachusetts.
“In each case a
large portion of the electorate has difficulty placing the candidates on these issue
dimensions,” Vercellotti said. “There is still time for the candidates to shape how voters perceivethem on these issues.”

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