Updated below: Scott Brown withdraws from Tuesday night's debate.
The fourth and final Massachusetts senatorial debate is scheduled to kick-off Tuesday night amidst speculation of cancellation depending on Hurricane Sandy’s impending effect. Both Senator Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren have suspended their campaigns, and Brown stated this morning that he is prepared to go ahead with the debate tomorrow night, although if the debate is canceled he expects it to be rescheduled.
This final debate comes at a critical point in this campaign with the election only a matter of days away. The polls are showing a near dead heat with Brown having a slight edge over Warren, who led in the polls just a month ago. This change is likely due to the shift in favorability toward Mitt Romney. In recent weeks Romney has chipped away at Obama’s previously lopsided advantage in Massachusetts. Romney has gained nearly seven points on Obama in the last month. However, the Republican nominee is still poised to lose the state by double digits.
It is likely that this Hurricane Sandy will have some sort of effect on this election. By this time next week voters will have endured a barrage of media discussion debating the hurricane''s political effect. If the debate is postponed and is moved closer to Election Day, then a more vivid image will be left in the voter’s mind come Tuesday, therefore increasing the importance of a solid performance by both candidates. Although both sides have suspended their campaigns and are making what seem to be non-political moves leading up to the storm, they are likely to try to work this to their advantage. The storm may not have a direct effect on voter turnout, but if the debate is rescheduled or either candidate begins to make overtly political statements regarding the storm then, we are likely to see an effect at the polls.
UPDATE: Scott Brown announces that he is withdrawing from Tuesday night's debate.
“The Scott Brown campaign today announced that out of concern for the hardship faced by people in the path of Hurricane Sandy that he will not be participating in tomorrow’s fourth and final debate,” read a statement by Brown spokesperson Colin Reed. “It is simply not appropriate to go forward with a political debate when a disaster strikes. The focus for all of us before, during and after the storm needs to be on emergency response and disaster relief, not campaigns and politics.”