SPRINGFIELD, Mass.—A majority of Massachusetts voters have a favorable opinion of Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and believe he deserves to be re-elected next year, according to a new poll released on Monday.
The telephone survey of 472 registered voters was taken from March 6-10 by the Western New England College Polling Institute. It also showed that most of Brown's potential Democratic challengers are not well known among voters at this point in time.
Brown won a special election in January 2010 to fill the remainder of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy's term. He will be up for re-election in November 2012.
According to the poll, 52 percent said Brown deserved to be re-elected in November 2012, while 28 percent said he did not. The rest had no opinion or did not answer.
Brown's favorability rating was 53 percent, with a 27 percent unfavorable rating. And the Republican's job approval rating was 57 percent -- on par with Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry and slightly above that of Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.
Brown's job approval rating among registered Republicans was 88 percent, and he also was also viewed favorably by 64 percent of independents -- the voting bloc which propelled him to his upset victory over Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election.
Forty-two percent of registered Democrats approved of the job Brown was doing.
"Obviously it's early in the election cycle and a lot can change in the coming months," said Tim Vercelotti, director of the polling institute, in a statement.
"But the survey results show that the Democrats have a hill to climb to unseat Senator Brown," he said.
Democrats who have been mentioned as possible contenders next year were not widely known among the voters surveyed. None, in fact, were recognizable to more than half of the survey sample, including U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano and City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, both of whom ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary leading up the special election last January.
Potential Democratic challengers also include Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll; Newton Mayor Setti Warren and Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law professor who heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The only declared candidate so far is Robert Massie, a former lieutenant governor candidate.
The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.