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A new poll conducted by University of Massachusetts Amherst has Elizabeth Warren leading Senator Scott Brown by a 43 to 39 percent margin in the high profile race for Brown’s senate seat. Warren’s lead is within the poll’s 4.4 percent margin of error, but the poll contains a number of troubling trends for the incumbent Republican.

As UMass Amherst political scientist Brian Schaffner says, “The race is a dead heat and [Brown’s] support is well under 50 percent, which usually means difficulty for an incumbent, especially this far out from Election Day.”

According to the poll, Warren holds a decisive 15 point lead over Brown among women, along with an 11 point lead among voters making $40,000 – $100,000 and a 15 point lead among voters making less than $40,000 a year. These numbers suggest that Warren’s populist campaign is resonating with lower and middle class voters.

Brown still has a big advantage among independent voters, leading Warren 49 to 31 percent among the group. 15 percent of independents remain undecided, however, and according to Schaffner those voters will likely determine who ultimately wins the election.

“Because of the advantage Democrats hold in this state, Republicans must dominate the independent vote to win. Brown’s 18-point edge among Independents is impressive and similar to what Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker enjoyed in 2010, but that edge was not large enough to push Baker to victory.”

Brown rode a wave of independent support to an upset victory over Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in 2010, but there is evidence that he may have trouble repeating that success. 12 percent of voters who supported Brown in 2010 told the UMass Amherst poll that they would vote for Warren or another candidate in 2012.

Before Warren can take on Brown, she must first win the Democratic primary in 2012. That is unlikely to be an obstacle, however; according to the poll Warren leads her closest Democratic competitor by a whopping 64 points.

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