Democrat Warren leads in Massachusetts Senate race

BOSTON Thu Dec 8, 2011 8:23am EST

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BOSTON Dec 8 (Reuters) - Democrat Elizabeth Warren, a prominent consumer activist and former official in President Barack Obama's administration, leads Republican Senator Scott Brown in her bid for a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts, a new poll shows.

Warren, who is also a Harvard Law School professor, had 49 percent support for the seat against 42 percent support for Brown, in the University of Massachusetts at Lowell/Boston Herald survey released late on Wednesday.

The survey of 505 registered voters was taken Dec. 1-6 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.

The previous UMass survey taken in late September, a few weeks after Warren announced her run, showed Brown ahead by 41 percent to 38 percent.

Warren has campaigned heavily and recently ran a television advertisement about her life story, raising her name recognition with voters.

Brown won a special election in January 2010 to fill the remainder of the late Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy's term. Kennedy died of a brain tumor in August 2009.

Republicans are eager to hold the seat, which Democrats see as perhaps their best chance to pick up a seat in 2012.

Progressive groups have thrown fund-raising muscle behind Warren, a long-time critic of Wall Street.

Warren created the Obama administration's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and led a panel created by Congress to examine how bank bailout money was being spent.

By a ten-point margin, those surveyed in the UMass poll said Warren would do a better job looking out for middle class families.