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Western New England University Press Release: Results of Scott Brown / Elizabeth Warren Poll

Western New England University Press Release: Results of Scott Brown / Elizabeth Warren Poll

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Published by: Greg Saulmon on Mar 06, 2012
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 Latest poll identifies voters’ perceptions of Senate candidates’ strengths and weaknesses
Massachusetts voters view Republican Scott Brown andDemocrat Elizabeth Warren roughly evenly in terms of who is honest and trustworthy,while Brown holds the edge on working across party lines in the Senate and Warren ismore often viewed as a strict regulator of the financial industry.The latest poll conducted by the Western New England University Polling Institute inpartnership with
The Republican
newspaper of Springfield, MA and MassLive.com foundthat voters are making clear distinctions between the candidates for the U.S. Senate. Butthe data also show that there is still plenty of opportunity for the candidates to definethemselves and each other.The statewide telephone survey of 527 registered voters, conducted Feb. 23 throughMarch 1, 2012, asked:
Regardless of how you plan to vote in the Senate election, please tell me whether youthink each of the following statements applies more to Scott Brown or ElizabethWarren:
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 care
2Brown, who was elected to the Senate in a special election in 2010, and Warren, aprofessor at Harvard Law School, ran roughly evenly on who is honest and trustworthy.Thirty-four percent of voters gave the nod to Brown and 31 percent cited Warren.Brown scored highest on having the experience to effectively represent the state inWashington, with 47 percent of voters saying the statement best described him, and 29percent attributing that characteristic to Warren.Brown also received high marks for bipartisanship, with 45 percent of voters saying hecould work with senators from both parties to solve problems. Twenty-six percent of voters said the statement best described Warren.
“Bipartisanship has been a consistent theme of the Brown campaign, and that messageseems to be reaching voters,” said Tim Vercellotti, associate professor of political science
and director of the Western New England University Polling Institute.Warren, on the other hand, was more often
described as caring “more about people likeyou.” Forty
-one percent of voters said the statement best applied to Warren, while 35percent said the statement described Brown.
“That a candidate can empathize with the aver 
age voter is an important trait, especiallyduring tough
economic times,” Vercellotti said. “Warren
, whose early advertising haspresented her as coming from humble origins, has a slight edge in this area. But Brown isonly a few points behind on this trait, which may reflect his ongoing efforts to presenthimself as someone with a modest background as well
 Warren came away with a much larger advantage when the survey asked which candidatewould be tougher on Wall Street. Fifty percent of voters said Warren, while 27 percentsaid Brown. Warren chaired a congressional panel that monitored the federal
s program to bail out troubled financial institutions and she also led efforts to
create the federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bur 
s background in this area
has clearly made an impression with voters,”
Vercellotti said.
“Across almost all demographic groups, voters gave her the advantageon this issue.”
 Voters gave Brown the nod when it comes to having the best ideas for creating jobs in
Massachusetts, 36 percent to Warren’s 27 percent. But Warren had the edge when it
cameto having the best ideas for improving
health care, with 39 percent to Brown’s 25 percent.
 Forty-two percent of women said Warren had the best ideas to improve health care, while24 percent said Brown. Men also favored Warren over Brown, but by a smaller margin of 35 percent to 27 percent.Vercellotti said it is hard to tell from the data whether
Warren’s advantage in this area
isrelated to the recent debate over Senate legislation that would allow employers to tailor
3health insurance coverage for employees
to reflect employers’ moral or religious
convictions, including whether to cover contraception. Brown supported the legislationand Warren opposed it. The Senate defeated the measure on March 1.
“While Warren receives higher ma
rks from women on health car
e, Brown’s standing
among women generally has not fallen significantly
in this latest survey,” Vercellottisaid. “There is not a lo
t of evidence in the data to indicate that this recent debate in theSenate has made a sizable
difference in the campaign.”
 Large numbers of voters either could not or would not offer an assessment of Brown orWarren on some of the candidate traits, including who has the best ideas for creating jobsor improving health care. Twenty-eight percent of voters said they did not know ordeclined to give an answer in both policy domains.Vercellotti said th
e results likely reflect gaps in voters’
knowledge of the candidates andtheir policy positions.
“When you have that many people failing to offer an assessment of 
a candidate on an important issue like jobs or health care, that suggests the campaignshave not succeeded in getting their messages across in those areas yet,
he said.Some voters also struggled to describe Brown and Warren in terms of political ideologywhen asked which of five categories best described the candidates: very liberal,somewhat liberal, moderate, somewhat conservative or very conservative. Voters alsowere offered the option to say they did not know.Thirty-
four percent of voters described Brown as “somewhat conservative” and 26 percent described him as “moderate.” But one
-quarter of voters said they could not givean answer. The uncertainty was even greater for Warren. Twenty-two percent of voters
described her as “somewhat liberal” and 19 percent described her as “very liberal,” but
42 percent said they did not know.
“That such a large number of people had difficulty placing the ca
ndidates in a category
may reflect the early stage of the campaign,” Vercellotti said. “
Voters clearly still have a
lot to learn about the candidates.”

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