Conflicting polling as Brown and Warren head into tonight’s debate

Following the Democratic Convention, intial polling suggested that Elizabeth Warren had taken the lead over Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race. More recently, a poll by WBUR/MassINC put Warren ahead by 5 points, 47-42.

But now comes a poll by UMass Lowell/Boston Herald, taken during basically the same period as the WBUR poll, that puts Brown ahead by 50-44. The poll also shows, however, that Brown’s lead (assuming the reliability of the poll) is not as solid as its size suggests. Nearly one in three Brown backers say they could change their mind before Election Day, compared to just 19 percent for Warren.

Thus, the Brown-Warren race looks like the same toss-up it has been, more or less, all along.

The race will enter a new phase tonight when the candidates hold their first debate (of four). The debate begins at 7:00 p.m. (EST).

Warren will want to show that she’s likeable. Brown will want to confirm that he’s independent. On its face, Brown’s task seems easier, although one never knows with debates where the random gaffe can be key.

As noted, however, the Boston Herald poll shows that Brown’s hold over voters is more tenuous than Warren’s. In that sense, Brown has more to lose.

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