Michael Barone would not be surprised if Jim Ogonowski upsets Niki Tsongas in the special election to succeed Marty Meehan:
If this election had been held in November 2006, Tsongas would have won by a solid margin. And she may still do that October 16. The SurveyUSA poll result would translate to a 53-to-42 percent Tsongas victory. A closer result would signal that the political environment has changed since November 2006, that the poor job ratings of the Democratic Congress have become more important to voters in House elections than the poor job ratings of the soon-to-depart George W. Bush.
I have written that we are in a period of open-field politics, a period like that of 1990-95, when incumbency became a liability more than an asset, when people crossed party lines back and forth and supported independent candidacies, when old rules of thumb no longer applied. Much of Washington would be stunned if a Republican won a House seat in Massachusetts. If that should happen, that's not necessarily a forecast of 2008: Voters in special elections know that they're voting for just one member and that their vote won't change which party controls the House. But it would signal that we're in a period of turbulence, as we were in 1990 and 1992, when incumbents of both parties saw their percentages fall. And it would suggest that the issues of taxes and immigration, which didn't work for Republicans in 2004 and 2006, might work for them in 2008.