A pair of polls released Saturday show the Massachusetts Senate race is living up to its billing as one of the tightest contests in the 2012 election cycle.
The polls also indicate Elizabeth Warren is weathering the controversy surrounding her claims of Native American heritage that has vexed her campaign for weeks.
In the latest survey from Western New England University Polling Institute, Warren holds a slim lead over Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), 45 percent to 43 percent. A poll from the Boston Globe also shows a 2 percentage point gap between the two, this time with Brown edging Warren, 39 percent to 37 percent.
The TPM Poll Average currently shows Brown and Warren virtually tied.
Warren’s campaign has been dogged by resurfaced claims that she is 1/32 Cherokee, information she provided to Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania during her time as a professor at the two schools. Warren has been unable to provide documentation to corroborate those claims, saying that she learned of her heritage through family lore. That’s prompted criticism from the Brown campaign, the media and Cherokee groups, including one that planned a protest against the former consumer watchdog at the state Democratic Convention Saturday in Springfield, Ma. Earlier this week, Brown seemed to insinuate that Warren may have been fed an erroneous family history when he quipped to a group of reporters, “My mom and dad have told me a lot of things, too, but they’re not always true.”
But Saturday’s polls suggest that Warren has not paid much of a political price for the fallout. In the Globe survey, 72 percent said the issue will not impact their vote in November.
The polls also crystallize that Brown, a moderate Republican, has remained in solid standing among his constituents in the Democratic stronghold since assuming the seat held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) in a 2010 special election. Brown earned an approval rating of 60 percent in the Globe poll, while 51 percent of respondents in the Western New England University survey approve of the job Brown is doing.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.