Massachusetts is a unique state: In the Suffolk poll, like the WBUR-FM/MassInc. poll released earlier in the week
, the majority of voters identify as independents. Independents favor Brown in the Suffolk poll by a lopsided, 32-point margin.
Brown's strength among independents -- and the necessity for him to maintain strong support among those voters -- makes his recent strategy to co-sponsor an amendment introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt
, which would exempt health care providers
from portions of the health care law violating their conscience, a risky decision, as it may alienate middle of the road voters in the blue state.
Independents made up around 40 percent of the 2008 Massachusetts electorate, according to exit polls, with Obama and Sen. John Kerry
, D-Mass., each winning majorities of that group. But those were blowout victories. Warren needs only to close the gap slightly to inch closer to Brown: The WBUR/MassInc poll showed her leading Brown by three percentage points despite trailing him by 21 points among independents.
That a poll shows Brown leading Warren is certainly welcome news for his campaign, but the trend lines on questions other than the head-to-head matchup show a senator who has lost some ground over the past 10 months -- particularly among the crossover voters Brown needs to win in deep-blue Massachusetts.