Monday, January 18, 2010

New Averages with Insider Advantage Poll

I told you I thought there would be at least one more poll release today and it is in. The Insider Advantage poll, with a sample size of 804 gives Republican Scott Brown a 52%-43%-2% (3% undecided) lead over Martha Coakley.

Recasting our non-partisan poll averages from earlier today, we now have:
Sample Weighted Average: Brown +3.7%
Unweighted Average: Brown +3.5%
Median Result: Brown +3.5%

Our New Statistical Projection: Brown 50.8%, Coakley 47.1%, Kennedy 2.1%

In all of the polls, Brown has been between 48% and 52% and Coakley has been between 41% and 49%.

While it is still certainly possible that Coakley could win (my projections have missed by 4 percentage points on occasion, although it is rare, and this is particularly dicey race to call, given the special election circumstances.)

Bettors are reacting to the poll numbers by betting hard on Brown, making him a 7:3 favorite in betting. Honestly, with the bevy of polls released in the past few days and none of them showing Coakley leading, I think these odds are probably over generous to Coakley. I would rate her chances of surviving tomorrow at 15 to 20%.

Honestly, who thought a year ago that the Republican comeback would start in Massachusetts? Certainly not me. A few weeks ago, I was saying that if the GOP could keep the margin under 15, it would be a moral victory.

Assuming Coakley loses, there will be a lot of post-mortem. Democrats will talk about how bad a candidate she was, failing to campaign hard early, showing no personality in the debates, etc. Republicans will call it a referendum on the Obama administration.

The truth is somewhere in between. Coakley HAS been a below-average candidate for Senate. She has inspired not at all, was extremely wooden in the debates and has, frankly, run a nasty, divisive, negative campaign. But, none of this would even matter in an ordinary year. In an ordinary rule those attributes would cause her to win by 15 points instead of 30, not lose.

Nor is distrust of the Obama administration the whole story. Sure Obama's approval is down. But it is still around 60% in Massachusetts, meaning that Brown is getting a fairly good sized chunk of people who actually like what the President is doing.

This is partly a proud American tradition of reigning in one-party rule. We, as a country, frankly don't like it very much when either party gets their way unfettered. And this instinct has proved healthy in most cases.

Of course, there is still a chance Coakley will win. Not much left to do but get out to the polls and count votes.

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