Obama Blues Trickle Down to Elizabeth Warren

Tonight marks the third debate of Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren’s race for Senate, and, as it’s see-sawed back and forth, it’s felt a little bit like one of those old Colts-Patriots shootouts (sorry Peyton Manning, but you’re just not the same on the Broncos). Just when you think one team has pulled ahead, the other races down field to take the lead. You get the feeling that whoever has the ball last is going to win. For Brown and Warren, it looks like it will come down to who happens to be riding the momentum on election day. The only thing is, they might not get to be the ones who determine who’s riding that wave.

Yesterday, the latest WBUR/MassInc poll put Brown ahead by a count of 47-43. My colleague Eric Randall touched on this a bit already, but that’s hardly the only worrisome number for the Warren campaign inside that poll. Equally troubling has to be the Presidential tally, which found Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 52-36 among Massachusetts voters. While that may seem like a solid margin, consider that, in WBUR and MassInc’s previous poll from the end of September, the count was Obama 60, Romney 32.

It would be easy to attribute this to a Romney bounce, but the issue for Warren isn’t so much increasing popularity for Romney. After all, Brown has distanced himself so far from our former governor that he actually had to come out and say that, yes, Romney still has his support, though he pledged in the last debate that he wouldn’t be a rubber stamp for Romney’s potential agenda.

The real issue for Warren is the dampening enthusiasm for Obama. All along, the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s strategy for getting Warren elected has been to ride Obama’s coattails. There are plenty of people out there who might not be big enough Warren fans to make it out to their polling place just for her, but are enthusiastic enough about Obama that they’d go vote for him, and then tick off Warren’s name on their ballot while they’re there. For that reason, the president’s eight-point drop in support in Massachusetts can’t be sitting well with the state party brass. After all, in a place like Massachusetts where everyone knows Obama is going to win anyway, it’s easy to rationalize staying at home on election day. People have to be excited about the president to actually go to the trouble of going out and voting for him. That debate did pretty much the opposite of excite people.

So where does all this leave us? First with tonight’s debate, and then tomorrow with the VP showdown between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. As Seth Meyers so eloquently put it on Saturday Night Live this week, that means it’s up to Biden to recapture momentum for Obama, and now, by extension, Warren. You could pardon Warren if she ends up holding her breath through Tebow time.