Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, whose upset victory in early 2010 marked the moment when many started to take the tea party movement seriously, leads his likely 2012 Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren by 9 percentage points, according to a new survey of voters.
Brown has 49% support compared with Warren’s 40%, according to a Suffolk University poll released Thursday.
Warren, whose reputation as a consumer advocate has made her the darling of progressive activists, holds a commanding lead over her Democratic challengers for the party’s nomination, which will be decided in the primary election Sept. 6.
But she has been unable to win the support of independents, who make up more than half of Massachusetts’ voters. Sixty percent of independents support Brown while 28% support Warren.
“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.”
Nearly two-thirds of independents also believe there is a benefit to having one Democratic and one Republican senator representing Massachusetts. As a whole, 60% of general election voters agreed that split party representation was beneficial.
Sen. John F. Kerry, a Democrat, is the senior senator from the state. Brown won the seat occupied for nearly half a century by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Democrat.
Brown is also well-liked by voters, with 52% giving him a favorable rating compared with 28% unfavorable. Warren’s favorability is considerably lower -- 35% -- but like Brown, just 28% view her unfavorably.
The survey of 600 registered voters was conducted Feb. 11-15 using live telephone interviews.