Polls show the race is close, but the dynamic could shift in either direction, in no small part because Warren is a first-time candidate who has yet to introduce herself to many in this state.
Where a Suffolk University poll in February showed her trailing Brown by nine percentage points, “what we calculated was the difference was people who do not know her,” said David Paleologos, director of the university’s political research center.
Touting work with Obama
Warren, who raised twice as much as Brown did in the first quarter, will have plenty of money at her disposal to rectify that. She has begun a $1.6 million television ad campaign that features her work with Obama on the creation of the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Liberals had hoped she would serve as the first head of the bureau, but the administration opted for a less controversial figure, Richard Cordray.
In her stump speeches, Warren reminds voters of a background that began far from Harvard Law School. She grew up in Oklahoma, the whip-smart daughter of a cash-strapped maintenance man and a mother who worked answering phones at Sears.
Whether that will sell against Republican efforts to define her as a Harvard elitist and an anti-business extremist, however, remains to be seen.
As Warren last week toured Lowell — in a part of the state that voted for Brown in 2010 — she made a point of dropping by locally owned Enterprise Bank, where she told chief executive Jack Clancy Jr., “If the Wall Street banks had behaved the way the community banks had behaved, we would not be in this crisis.”
But at a small-business roundtable at Salem State University, some were skeptical of her insistence that raising taxes on the wealthy and on oil companies would be enough to fund the investments she says are needed in infrastructure and education.
After meeting with her, Mario Ricciardelli, founder of a start-up company called HipHost, criticized her for “inflammatory sound bites” that “vilify big businesses that make money.” Still, Ricciardelli — who described himself as “fiercely independent, because both parties have severely disappointed me” — said he is not sure how he will vote this fall.
A stumble on ancestry
Some veteran Democratic strategists acknowledge privately that they are concerned at how Warren reacted to her first major controversy, the revelation by the Boston Herald that she had claimed Native American ancestry based on what appears to be one-32nd of her lineage. That raised questions about whether she had used it to her advantage in receiving prestigious faculty appointments, though Harvard officials deny it and Warren said, “I’ve got what I’ve got because of what I’ve done.”