A poll today from Rasmussen brought big news for those in Ohio, where Senator Sherrod Brown is fighting for his political life against state Treasurer Josh Mandel. The new results show the two men tied, each with 43 percent. The survey asked 500 likely voters and had a 4.5 point margin of error. This is the first poll to show Brown without a sizable lead; a poll from NBC earlier in March had the incumbent ahead 47-37.
It's hardly time to panic though. While the race is on many watch lists, The Cook Report, a favorite of political prognosticators, has Brown with the advantage, labeling it "Leans Democrat." Furthermore, Rasmussen polls often seem to tilt Republican. A couple years ago, Nate Silver addressed the pattern directly, calling Rasmussen polls "biased and inaccurate."
Still the news will likely bring more attention to the Senate race. Brown is one of the most vocal and visible liberals in D.C., with The Washington Post calling him a "modern-day Paul Wellstone." (For the record, Wellstone himself only died ten years ago; his own tenure is hardly ancient history.) Brown is a big target for conservatives, and in Josh Mandel, they found a pretty perfect challenger. The former Marine, who did two tours in Iraq, came home and quickly rose from a city councilman to state treasurer. As a senatorial candidate, he's already proven himself to be a solid fundraiser. The latest poll results will likely rev his base and help his numbers even further, regardless of the poll's reliability.