Still, there's many a month before the November elections. And Jennifer Lawless, a former Brown University political science professor now at American University, isn't buying into assertions that Brown's victory over Coakley signals some broad rejection of the Obama agenda in Democratic strongholds.

"This is not indicative of anything," she says. "He was an excellent candidate and she was not, after the primary, as energizing as would be hoped."

Or so a nervous bunch of Democrats hope.

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