Any possibility that John B. Anderson's candidacy might throw the 1980 presidential election into the US House of Representatives is melting away in the two states that have been his greatest political strongholds.
But Massachusetts and Connecticut, with 22 electoral votes between them, are not being written off by the independent candidate, despite his considerable slippage in the polls. The veteran Illinois congressman is on his way back to New England for two more days of campaigning before the election.
While his prospects of carrying either state now appear less than slim, Anderson activists remain convinced he is stronger than public opinion samplings indicate and will have a major impact on the election outcome.
The Anderson dilemma shows up in a recent poll by Clark University: If all Massachusetts voters voted for their most preferred candidate, Anderson would carry the state with 37 percent, Carter and Reagan would each get about 28 percent, and 6 percent would be ambivalent. But even though Anderson is their first choice, 29 percent of voters say they will vote for Jimmy Carter, 27 percent will vote for Ronald Reagan, and only 18 percent intend to vote for Anderson with 26 percent undecided.
Perhaps the major setback to the Anderson campaign here in the commonwealth and in Connecticut has been US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's strong post-convention support for Carter, along with that of other prominent New England Democrats. This has helped build support for Carter. In the latest Bay State poll, he ran ahead of Reagan 31 percent to 29 percent with Anderson a distant third with 18 percent.
By contrast, a similar sampling in June had the President trailing Reagan nearly 2 to 1 -- 33 percent to 19 percents, with Anderson at 31 percent in the Bay State. Although Carter gained considerably on Reagan over the summer, a September poll here showed the Reagan still leading Carter, although narrowly, 27 to 26 percent.
Between mid-September and mid-October, Anderson's support skidded from 24 percent to 18 percent in Massachusetts.