William Jacobson, a professor/blogger who’d been highly critical of the push for a poll in Massachusetts, embraces the new Rasmussen poll that shows Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown nine points down.
This is better than I expected for Brown. [Attorney General] Coakley has been a statewide figure for years, and has much better name recognition, SEIU and other union support, and the Massachusetts Democratic machine behind her. Obama won the state by over 20%, and Coakley should have had at least a mid-teens lead at this point.
Jacobson engages in something I noticed while reporting my story yesterday — underestimating Coakley to hype up the chances of the upset. He claims, for example, that Coakley took a six-day vacation at the end of December. That’s not quite true. Coakley made a campaign stop on Dec. 23; four days later, she participated in a debate. Brown did some media on Christmas Eve, but he also took a little time off during the holiday.
The two candidates have had a much different approach to “netroots” outreach that, I think, is coloring expectations. Simply put, Brown is doing a lot of outreach and his supporters point to Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and blog support as proof of momentum. Coakley’s not doing much of that, and Democratic strategists in the state deride Brown’s hype in the face of Coakley’s duller, but traditionally effective, focus on local endorsements and GOTV.
That said, the fear of people like Jacobson was that a poll on the race would focus attention on Jan. 19 and bring out Democrats who thought the election was over. That seems to be happening.