Independents & Moderates Break In Opposite Directions as MA5 Special Congressional Election Nears:
5 Days till polls open in the Special Election for U.S. House of Representatives in Massachusetts' 5th Congressional District, Democrat Niki Tsongas cannot shake Republican challenger Jim Ogonowski, according to this poll of 457 likely voters conducted exclusively for WBZ-TV Boston. Tsongas leads by 9 points today, effectively unchanged from a SurveyUSA WBZ tracking poll released 09/11/07, when she led by 10. But there is movement under the surface. Among self-identified Independent voters, who make-up 39% of the electorate in SurveyUSA's turnout model, Ogonowski's advantage has grown from 7 points on 09/11 to 13 points today. The more Independents who turn out on Tuesday, the better Ogonowski does. Among self-described Moderates -- a group that often moves in harmony with Independent voters, but not in this contest -- Tsongas has gained 15 points. Conservatives are locked-in on Ogonowski; he leads by 71 points there. Liberals are locked-in on Tsongas; she leads by 76 points there. The Gender Gap has grown since SurveyUSA's last poll. Ogonowski today leads by 18 points among men. Tsongas leads by 37 points among women. Gender Gap had been 45 points, now 55 points. Among the oldest voters, there is movement to Tsongas. Because this is a special election, with no statewide offices on the ballot, and few comparable elections to model, turnout is difficult to forecast. To the extent voters wish to communicate how miserably unhappy they are with anyone and everyone in elected office, Ogonowski may be the vehicle they choose to deliver that message. To the extent that the more powerful meme is that voters are unhappy with the Republican White House, Tsongas should win comfortably in a district where just 18% of likely voters identify themselves as Republicans.