* Are the right’s attacks on Elizabeth Warren a bust?

National Republicans and conservatives are heavily invested in a campaign to use Occupy Wall Street to tar Elizabeth Warren as culturally out of step with the white working class voters and independents who will help decided the Massachusetts Senate race. Exhibit A: Crossroads GPS’s recent ad falsely insuating she supports Occupy violence.

Indeed, Warren is the number one test case as to whether the right can successfully use the protests’ excesses to tar Dems and the larger populist message they have embraced amid the shift in the national conversation towards inequality and lack of Wall Street accountability.

So how’s that campaign working out so far?

A new University of Massachusetts/Boston Herald poll finds that Warren has jumped to a seven point lead over Brown, 49-42. Here’s the key finding:

Asked who would do a better job of looking out for middle class families, 43 percent of voters cite Warren and 33 percent identify Brown. Nearly half of Massachusetts voters also say Warren would do a better job of regulating Wall Street institutions. And more than a third of Massachusetts voters say they are less likely to back Brown because of campaign donations from Wall Street, a main theme of the Democratic attack against the incumbent.

In other words, Warren’s broader message — that she’s on the side of the middle class, and will battle Wall Street on its behalf, while Brown is in Wall Street’s corner — may be be resonating. Also key from the internals: Only 25 percent say Warren’s views are too liberal, versus 40 percent who say they’re about right. Only seven percent say Warren’s work as a Harvard professor — a major theme against her — will make them less likely to support her. And only 23 percent say Warren’s support for Occupy Wall Street makes them less likely to back her — significantly less than the 37 percent who say Brown’s acceptance of donations from Wall Street make them less likely to support him.

Those findings cast doubt on whether the right’s efforts to push those old cultural buttons are working.

The poll does find that Warren’s negative rating has gone up by nine points, but it’s still down at 27 percent, while Brown’s is up at 35 percent. What to watch for now: Outside groups on the right — Crossroads, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — are likely to significantly up their efforts in the state.

* Payroll tax cut must read: Eugene Ludwig on just how much is really at stake in the fight over extending the payroll tax cut, and why failure would be devastating for the recovery.

* Dems airing new ad on taxing millionaires: The Obama-allied Priorities USA is going up with this new spot in Iowa, in advance of the GOP debate, that hits Republicans for supporting taxing the middle class instead of the wealthy, and features a special appearance by someone who remains well respected by Republican voters:

The ad is another sign that Obama and his allies are already gearing up to make tax fairness absolutely central to Campaign 2012, yet another indication of how much the conversation has shifted.

* Newt-mentum in the swing states!!! Quinnipiac finds that Newt Gingrich holds significant double digit leads over Mitt Romney in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Sobering news for President Obama: Both Republicans are in dead heats with him or are leading in Florida and Ohio.

* Romney’s “electability” argument takes a hit: Also from the Q-poll: In these states, “Romney runs only slightly better against Obama, diluting his claim that he has the best chance to win.”

* Why GOP voters may go for Newt: Sean Trende rips the lid off: Gingrich gratifies GOP voters’ seething anti-Obama anger and resentment of the imagined liberal media far more effectively than Romney ever could.

* Romney team scrambles to deal with Newt: A smart Post story on the intense pressure that the Romney team is suddenly feeling in the wake of Newt’s surge, and the shifts in strategy that are being planned to deal with it.

Also: The Romney camp, in a clear shift, is rolling out surrogates today to directly criticize Gingrich’s record.

* Dems keep it up on Romney: The DNC is out with a new Web video that dramatizes what Dems are calling Mitt Romney’s “multiple political personality disorder.”

With these videos coming now at a furious clip, it now seems clear that with Gingrich surging, the constant Dem attacks are partly about signaling Romney’s weakensses in a general election, in hopes of swinging the primaries to Newt.

* The inequality deniers are pulling GOP to the right: The Post lead editorial today makes a key point: The refusal of some Republicans to acknowledge the gravity of our inequality problem has pulled the party well to the right of what was a bipartisan consensus view (if not a policy agreement) only a few years ago.

* And Republicans are the real defenders of Social Security:The amount of Republicans now employing the talking point that extending the payroll tax cut will damage Social Security continues to grow, and grow, and grow...

What else is happening?