US Senator Scott Brown has regained a lead over Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren in a new WBUR-Mass Inc. poll, after a string of polls showed Warren with the lead…. The telephone poll of 502 likely voters, taken Oct. 5 through Oct. 7, showed Brown leading 47 percent to 43 percent, within the 4.4 percent margin of error. The lead drops to 3 percentage points — 48 percent to 45 percent — with the inclusion of respondents who say they have not fully made up their mind but are leaning to one candidate….
[T]his was the first poll taken after the Oct. 3 presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. That debate has helped boost Romney’s campaign, which may be affecting races lower on the ballot.
Obama lead Romney by 16 points on the newest WBUR poll. It’s a sizeable advantage, but down from the 28 point lead he held in the previous WBUR poll.
This poll is apparently also the first one taken entirely after the second Warren/Brown debate, but I think it’s quite unlikely that that debate had much impact. The last WNEU poll was taken about half before and half after that debate, and it showed Warren up 5, plus, nothing happened in that debate to undermine Warren’s position.
So that leaves the presidential debate. It would surprise me to learn that Obama’s awful performance had that big of an effect on the Senate race, but it can’t be ruled out as a possibility, and the MassINC polls have generally been in line with others so far this cycle. It’s unusual for a single debate to have the impact that last week’s is apparently having, but it’s also unusual – in fact, it’s unprecedented – for a sitting president to lose the cycle’s first debate in such a convincing fashion (Gallup reports that of “all of the various debate-reaction polls Gallup has conducted, Romney’s 52-point win is the largest Gallup has measured”). Nate Silver at 538 offers some much-needed perspective on how to look at the recent polling in light of last week. (Short version: take the movement seriously, but don’t panic – among other things, Romney’s “debate bump” appears to be subsiding in the national tracking polls.)
Obama had better get his act together for the next one. In any event, there remains much to do here, as Kate explains.