Republican Sen. Scott Brown is still in first place in a new Massachusetts poll, but controversial Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren is gaining ground on the freshman senator--and she has not even jumped in the race.
A poll released Tuesday by Boston's WBUR shows the former adviser to President Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is just nine points behind Brown even though she has still not decided whether to run for the seat once held by liberal icon Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Brown took 44 percent of the vote and Warren took 35 percent of 500 likely voters in a hypothetical head-to-head contest. Warren pushed for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in last year's rewrite of Wall Street regulations.
That showing put her in first place among the four main contenders for the Democratic nomination. City Year co-founder Alan Khazei garnered 30 percent to Brown's 45 percent. Activist Bob Massie took 29 percent against Brown and Newton Mayor Setti Warren took 28 percent.
In the poll between 20 percent and 27 percent of voters were undecided or had no candidate preference.
Brown won the 2010 special election in a surprise victory over Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Brown is still the clear front-runner. Just 5 percent of respondents said they had never heard of him, while 44 percent of those asked had never heard of Warren. And he received a 54 percent favorable rating, compared to just 17 percent for Warren.
But Brown has higher negatives: one of four said they viewed him unfavorably, compared to one of eight who viewed Warren unfavorably.
The telephone poll of voters who are likely to cast ballots in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate election next year took place Aug. 30-Sept. 1 and has margin of error of 4.4 percent.