The 2012 Massachusetts Senate race features two competitors who seemingly achieved political-celebrity status upon their very introduction into the public consciousness. Sen. Scott Brown, the incumbent in the race, is best known as the legislator who ended the Democratic Party's brief, 134-day filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate when he dispatched Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley in the special election held for Ted Kennedy's seat. Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law professor tapped to chair the Congressional Oversight Panel on the Troubled Asset Relief Program, went on to assist in the founding of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
To Republicans, Scott Brown's reelection represents the opportunity to hold a traditionally Democratic Senate seat in traditionally liberal Massachusetts. Elizabeth Warren's election, on the other hand, is of near-totemic importance to progressives across the country, for her dedication to holding Wall Street malefactors to accounts. Nevertheless, each candidate has demonstrated a certain amount of ideological independence. Warren is as well known for sparring with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner as she is for fighting with Brown. Meanwhile, Brown has not always been the reliable GOP vote for which national conservatives had hoped, breaking with his party on the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" and the Democrats' 2010 jobs bill.
Warren's entry into the race began with articulating her vision of a healthy middle class and the government's role in preserving it, in a popular video in which she said, "Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless -- keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along." This is additionally noteworthy because one of President Barack Obama's biggest campaign headaches came when he tried to ape Warren's sentiments in a stump speech of his own. His resulting statement -- "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen" -- yielded up the "You didn't build that" soundbite with which the Romney campaign dogged Obama for months.
Warren and Brown mutually agreed to "curb political attack ads by outside groups" at the outset of their campaign, but from there, the pair has combined for a fairly contentious race, yielding some of the sharpest and most bitterly fought debates of the downticket campaign cycle. Brown has attempted to depict Warren as a Harvard elitist, and has made particular hay over her claims to Native American heritage. Warren has countered by alleging that Brown is a captured servant of Wall Street interests. Additionally, Brown and Warren have had combustible exchanges over Brown's record on supporting women.
As of this writing, the HuffPost Pollster model had Warren leading Brown 50.3 percent to 45.8 percent. While there have been recent polls that suggest the race may yet prove to be close, Republicans have grown less bullish that Brown will retain his seat.
The Center for Responsive Politics has a list of the key contributors to each campaign.