Up until last week, Massachusetts's open 6th CD and New Jersey's open 3rd CD were the most-watched races in their respective states. But now that it's October and everyone is looking for potential surprises, some of the buzz in the Bay State and Garden State has shifted to two long-shot candidates both parties had previously written off: Democratic attorney Roy Cho (NJ-05) and GOP attorney John Chapman (MA-09).

Is the buzz real, or are local media simply growing weary of covering the same old races and falling in love with underdogs? Given the widespread anti-Washington mood of 2014, it's worth taking a closer look.

An Emerson College poll raised eyebrows in early October when it showed the unknown Chapman leading Democratic Rep. Bill Keating (MA-09) 45 percent to 39 percent. The poll seemed like an aberration, given that the 9th CD, encompassing Cape Cod and much of southeastern Massachusetts, gave President Obama 55 percent and Keating 59 percent in 2012. But, at least one additional private poll depicts an unexpectedly close race.

Keating doesn't have any of the obvious self-inflicted

More from the Cook Political Report

National Politics
Charlie "Chuck" Cook