Tsongas Stalled, Or Maintaining Her Lead?

New WBZ poll has Niki Tsongas ahead by 9% over Jim Ogonowski, essentially unchanged from its poll taken immediately after the primary. Opinions vary as to what that means.

I think it verifies what we learned in the primary, which is that Tsongas isn't good at adding voters; in that race she received at the ballot box the same percentage she had shown in polling the entire time. She starts with a strong base, but anything she does to win over a voter also drives one away, it seems, and undecideds break against her.

That leaves her extremely vulnerable to a late surge in this final week, just as she was in the primary, when Eileen Donoghue almost caught her.

Now she's hurt at just the wrong time by the Rep. Atkins comments about Ogo's immigration views. While quite possibly accurate, those remarks have thrust the spotlight on the immigration issue, which is where Ogo wants it. Don't underestimate the ability of that issue to move votes in the district, and to get otherwise passive portions of the electorate to the voting booth.

The bad news in the poll for Ogonowski, of course, is exactly the same as for Niki: he has no more people ready to vote for him than he did five weeks ago. And whereas Tsongas has the excuse of being already so well-known that voters' views had solidified already, Ogo was at that point primarily just Not Niki.

And Tsongas is still over 50% in the new poll, if only barely, and that still wins. (Actually, 49% probably still wins given the 3rd party candidates.) And most likely, her bigger budget and better election-day organization will be worth a couple of points at the end.

But this poll is still good news for Ogonowski, who now needs to stop playing nice and start opening fire at Tsongas to close the gap by Tuesday.

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