Wednesday, August 15, 2007

SUSA Poll of MA-05

Via Jon Keller comes the latest WBZ4/SUSA Fifth Congressional District poll. This, I believe, is the first poll done by an independant firm for the race to replace former Congressman Marty Meehan (D-Lowell). The results showed candidate Niki Tsongas as the frontrunner, as expected, while Eileen Donoghue, Barry Finegold and Jamie Eldridge are roughly tied for second place. Barely registering (in fact, below "other" and "undecided") is Jim Miceli. Here are the numbers:


Now, some may find it surprising that the number of undecided voters is so small in the SUSA poll. I've discussed this about SUSA before, but the reason for that is two-fold. Part of it is the question that's asked: "If the Democratic Primary for U.S. House of Representatives were today, and you were standing in the voting booth right now, who would you vote for?" That question encourages the respondent to make a choice. This is appropriate, in my opinion, because if people are undecided on election day, they're likely to stay home. This is particularly true of a special election where only one race will be on the ballot. It's also important to remember that these respondents are those SUSA considers likely voters. People who support a candidate are certainly more likely to vote than those who do not.

Of course, since this is a special election the day after Labor Day, any likely voter model is practically guesswork. The only people who I expect to come out to vote in the primary are people who have been contacted by a campaign. The winner of the race is likely to be the candidate who has done the best voter ID and is able to drag their supporters out on the first day of school.

Also interesting in this poll was the fact that 66% of the respondents disapproved of the job Congress is currently doing and 82% said the country is going in the wrong direction. These opinions, however, had no bearing on their choice for Congressional representation.

In other MA-05 polling news, I just got a notice from Eileen Donoghue's campaign touting the fact that their internal tracking poll shows them just six points behind Niki Tsongas. Their own polling also has Donoghue winning Lowell by a better than two-to-one margin and winning among "voters who have made a final decision on a candidate". Given how different this is from the public poll, I'm skeptical. The timing suggests that the internal poll was released to counter the SUSA poll, so take these numbers with a grain of salt.