01/25/2010 10:48 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Massachusetts Senate: Did Brown Move Early or Late?

My column for this week examines an argument made last week by Mark Mellman, pollster for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), that polls showing a close race between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The column ultimately addresses the question of why two automated polls showed a neck-and-neck race two weeks before the election, while some telephone surveys, including one conducted by Mellman's firm, showed a big Coakley lead. The column includes a statistic shared by Evan Tracey, founder of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, showing that Brown's television advertising exceeded a half million dollars while the first automated survey by PPP was still in the field.

After I filed the column on Friday, I heard from a Republican source who makes a point I did not address in the column: Brown's did not require television advertising to begin to gain on Coakley. His personal campaigning, as covered by Boston newspapers and television, helped boost his recognition and probably amplified the advertising that he ran in early January:

Massachusetts is the MOST politically aware state in the country. Behind the Pats and the Bosox, it's their blood sport. They FOLLOW it passionately. The number of verbatim comments from voters who brought stuff up that had never been advertised was amazing.

My source also passes along that by Saturday January 9, the day the first PPP poll finished interviewing, Brown's internal tracking showed that 65% of voters in the Boston market reported having seen the Brown truck ad.