Monday, July 09, 2007

Latest Fifth District Polling

Over the weekend, the Lowell Sun reported on a Fifth District Congressional poll taken by candidate and fomer Lowell Mayor Eileen Donoghue. The poll shows Donoghue second behind Niki Tsongas, but by a smaller margin than a similar poll taken in early May. Here are the results for the whole district:


Donoghue's poll also showed her winning Lowell with 35.4% and with six points of Tsongas in Greater Lowell. The only candidate from the Southern end of the District, Rep. Jamie Eldridge, apparently does best in that region, though he still is behind Tsongas 20.7% to 26.6% in that region. Of course, given that the poll as a whole has a margin of error of 4%, the subsamples will have a much smaller sample size and have an even larger MOE. It's not clear how useful any of those individual regional numbers might be since we don't know the regional breakdown of the poll.

Of course, the usual caveats apply to this data because it is an internal poll, paid for by one of the candidates. It's true that Donoghue would benefit from having an accurate picture of the electorate as it stands now, but it's also true that her team has control over the questions and the decision whether or not to release these numbers. It's interesting that this poll was done by a different firm than the last one, which makes me wonder whether she is commissioning multiple polls at a time and only releasing the ones that show the most favorable results. In addition, there's no indication of how the questions were asked and what information led up to the selection of a candidate. I know that some polls in low-profile races give short bios of each candidate before asking the respondent to choose one. That may not be the case in this poll, but the Sun article makes no mention either way.

In the end, what the poll really shows is that more people are undecided than support any particular candidate. That may mean that the race is more up-for-grabs than the Tsongas team would like. Of course, what will really matter is which candidate can drag their supporters out to a special election the day after Labor Day. It seems to me that the undecideds will be less likely to schlep out to vote and that number is only important insofar as one candidate or another can gain the support of people who have not yet made up their minds. That may be a tough job over the summer when so many people are on vacation and thinking of other things than politics.