WASHINGTON -- Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger are nearly tied in the race for a Massachusetts Senate seat, according to a poll released Wednesday night. This new result suggests that relentlessly negative news coverage over allegations that Warren embellished her biography have had little impact on a race that has remained deadlocked for months.
The new poll, conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center and sponsored by Boston television station 7News, gave Brown a one percentage point edge over Warren (48 percent to 47 percent), with just 5 percent undecided. The survey of 600 likely voters in Massachusetts was conducted from May 20 to 22.
The new results are a close match to two surveys conducted by other organizations in early May. Warren and Brown were exactly tied in both an automated Rasmussen Reports poll (with 45 percent each) and an internal poll paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (46 percent each). But polls by other organizations have produced slightly different estimates of where the candidates stand for months.
The HuffPost pollster chart, which combines all of the publicly available survey data into trend lines that attempt to smooth out the variation among individual polls, has shown a generally close race since December. Its current estimate shows Warren leading Brown by 1.5 percentage points (45.8 percent to 44.3 percent).
Warren's standing on the latest Suffolk University poll represents an improvement from the previous survey in early February that gave Brown a nine percentage point lead (49 percent to 40 percent).
But comparisons to the previous survey may be misleading, given criticism leveled at the last poll for asking a series of questions just before the vote preference measure that may have inflated Brown's standing. Even Brown's pollster, Republican Neil Newhouse, expressed doubts about the order of questions on the previous Suffolk survey.
The new survey included questions about the Native American controversy. Nearly three quarters of the voters (72 percent) said they were aware of it, but when asked if Warren is "telling the truth about her claims to be part Native American," 49 percent said yes and 28 percent said no. Voters split, but tilted slightly in Warren's direction, on the question of whether she "benefited by listing herself as a minority hire" -- 41 percent said yes, 45 percent said no. But only 27 percent said they considered the issue to be a "significant story."
The controversy appears to have left the Massachusetts Senate race where it has been for months: Very close and far from over.
This article was updated to include a HuffPost pollster chart.