Senator Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren hit the campaign trail this weekend with a potentially shifting backdrop, as some national political handicappers begin to call Warren the slight favorite.
Several political sites, including the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports on Friday and the Washington Post’s Fix blog on Thursday, moved the closely fought contest from “tossup” to “leans Democrat,” as polls giving Warren a slight edge continue to stack up. The Cook Report continues to rate the race a tossup, while the Rothenberg Political Report on Friday moved it from “pure tossup” to “tossup/tilt Democrat.”
“It means that while the race remains close and competitive, Warren has an advantage,” Stu Rothenberg, editor of the report, said by e-mail. “And given that we couldn’t give either one the advantage for months, that is a significant development.”
Rothenberg said the move also reflects what he and his analysts are hearing from insiders in both parties.
Throughout the race, both campaigns have been cautious about reading too much into polls, at least in public. Warren has led in a number of recent surveys, but her leads have remained within the margin of error. The campaigns are also conscious that two years ago, many polls showed Martha Coakley leading late into the campaign before Brown defeated her.
Warren laughed on Saturday when asked if she has become the favorite.
“Now come on, you know that it takes a pundit to comment on the polls,” she said. “But I will tell you this: There is great energy all across this state. This campaign isn’t about me. It is about all the people who have invested in it, with their time, their energy, their money.”
Brown, a Republican, has called himself the underdog since Warren entered the campaign, even though he is the incumbent.
“How many times have you heard me say that polls don’t matter?” he said, surrounded by supporters at a Boston College football tailgate party. “Just thinking about the reception here, these are all Scott Brown voters here, and we’re gonna keep reaching out and ask them to get to work and, you know, it’s not over till it’s over . . . Momentum feels like it’s going in the right direction.”
Saturday, the candidates continued with their typical schedules of public events. Brown went to a breakfast in Dorchester, a Boston College football tailgate meet and greet in Chestnut Hill, the dedication of a World War II memorial in Everett, and a children’s Halloween festival in South Boston.
“I need you guys to get involved in the last nine days,” Brown, wearing a BC fleece, told a group of alumni gathered around a spread of nachos, fried chicken, and Halloween cookies.
“Tell your friends, get on the phone, OK?” he told another group, between jokes about beer and college life.
Warren stopped by the Galley Diner for a morning meet and greet. She then joined US Representative Stephen Lynch and state Representative Nick Collins of South Boston to fire up about 200 union workers organized by the Greater Boston Labor Council in South Boston, before they began a door-knocking effort. In the afternoon, she headed west for a rally with supporters and an endorsement from Mayor Domenic Sarno of Springfield.
“For 10 days, I’m going to be out there working my skinny little butt off,” Warren told the assembled group of union workers in orange, blue, and red T-shirts at the Iron Workers hall in South Boston. “I will be scrapping. I will be fighting. I will be pushing every inch of the way. But I want you to know this. I’m not doing this alone.”
As the candidates hit the trail on a bright fall day, however, meteorologists continued to warn residents that Hurricane Sandy could disrupt activities around the state. With the storm’s effects expected to arrive in New England as early as Sunday night, it threatens to interrupt campaigning at a crucial time for candidates, ahead of the final week. But Warren and Brown said they had not made plans to alter their schedules.
“It depends on what happens,” Warren said. “Right now, I’m still going full blast and will do that as long as the weather permits. When it doesn’t, then we’ll have to make adjustments.”
Brown said he would also leave it up to the forecasters, and expects to meet Warren in their final debate Tuesday night.
“Obviously, safety and security of the people of Massachusetts comes first, and if we need to adjust and adapt we’ll do so,” he said. “I plan on doing my senatorial duties first, regardless of what the requirements are on our debate. But certainly if there’s no issues, I’ll certainly be there.”Noah Bierman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.