It's far too close to call, at this point, but if the current numbers hold, Mike McGinn will find himself in the general election for mayor. The funny thing is, up until mid-July, he was polling at around 8%, constantly knocking the proposed deep-bore tunnel, opposition to which has been the cornerstone of his campaign, but not gaining any measurable traction. Then, July 14th, the tunnel's supporters, tired of McGinn's barbs, showed they weren't going to take it by taking to Ivar's Acres of Clams and holding a press conference to counter his breakdown of the costs. At the same time, SurveyUSA was conducting a poll, and McGinn polled at--you guessed it--8%. The next time SurveyUSA ran a poll a month later, McGinn was at 15%. (See the sequence of polls here. Joe Mallahan shot up in that time as well--more on that below)
Granted, movement in the polls should increase as the election approaches and people learn more about the candidates. And it's a chicken-or-egg question here--maybe McGinn was already gaining traction, and that's why the tunnel advocates called the press conference. But in doing so, as noted at the time, they sure called a lot of attention to a mayoral candidate projected to get only 8% of the vote. In that month interim, McGinn ran no television advertisements, unlike Mallahan, who began running ads even on network TV in late July, and Nickels, who had ads on cable. Thus, he was dependent on his volunteers' phone banking, robocalls, and media coverage of the tunnel dispute--fueled by a much-promoted, bigwig-filled press conference at a popular tourist diner. That one sure backfired.