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October 10, 2012 11:30 AM How Conservative Is Scott Brown?

By John Sides

A new UMass poll finds Elizabeth Warren leading Scott Brown by 3 points among likely voters.  You can see that poll here and other polls from that race here.  (The average of polls suggests Warren has a slight lead.)

In the UMass poll, respondents were asked to locate Warren and Brown on a standard liberal-conservative spectrum.  Respondents also placed themselves on this spectrum, as well as Obama, Romney, the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party.  Two UMass political scientists, Brian Schaffner and Ray LaRaja, shared the results with me:

Respondents placed Warren, the Democratic Party, and Obama at virtually the same place, somewhat left of center.  On average, voters placed themselves close to the “moderate” category.

What is particularly noteworthy is that voters saw Brown as distinctly to the left of Romney and the GOP.  Brown’s attempts at moderation—summarized in this graph—are at least somewhat successful.

On the whole, Warren and Brown appear equidistant from the average Massachusetts likely voter, suggesting that neither has an advantage here.  But Brown might be in more trouble if he hadn’t taken pains to break with the GOP from time to time.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.