Massachusetts may have had its last glimpse of most of the Democrats competing in next Tuesday's presidential primary. With the balloting still five days off, only Gary Hart and George McGovern have the Bay State on their campaign schedules.
Walter Mondale, who had been expected to return here for at least another day of campaigning, now appears to have decided to stay in the South, where there are more national convention delegates at stake on Super Tuesday.
Instead of returning to the commonwealth for a final push, his strategy is to leave the effort largely in the hands of Bay State political heavyweights, such as Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, and run a media-oriented advertising campaign.
Hart supporters are savoring their candidate's smashing Vermont victory - 71 percent of the vote to Walter Mondale's 20 percent - in that state's nonbinding balloting Tuesday.
And Senator Hart is expected to increase his visits to the commonwealth, in an effort to continue his New England sweep.
Hart is due in the Bay State for at least a few hours next Monday, primary eve.
His agenda also includes spending much of Saturday in Massachusetts, where he will attend two Boston-area fundraisers, do some politicking on a street in Worcester, visit a Charlestown cafe, and meet with Vietnam veterans at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
For the next few days, however, contender George McGovern will have Bay State campaign trails pretty much to himself, as he has since Monday.
These three and Jesse Jackson, who rounded out his Massachusetts campaigning Sunday, all spoke at a state Democratic Party fundraiser on March 4. John Glenn of Ohio, the fifth remaining contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, was not at the dinner and is not due back in the commonwealth before the vote, according to his top Bay State aide.
While no less hopeful of picking up ''at least some delegates'' here, Senator Glenn is concentrating on primaries held the same day in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, says Don Davenport, Glenn's Massachusetts campaign chief.
Further, the Glenn campaign has no plans to broadcast any more radio or television spots in the commonwealth. At this writing, none of the prominent Massachusetts Democrats who had endorsed the Ohio senator's bid has shifted support elsewhere.
US Sen. Paul E. Tsongas (D) of Massachusetts, an early enthusiastic Glenn backer, says his support remains firm. ''I believe that once you endorse somebody you stick with him through thick and thin. This happens to be the thick ,'' Senator Tsongas asserts, acknowledging the Glenn campaign has been having some problems.
Meanwhile, Tsongas's sister, Thaleia Schlesinger, a leading peace activist in the state who supported former candidate Alan Cranston, Tuesday threw her backing to the Hart candidacy.
Her move counters a shift by other well-known Cranston boosters who moved to Mondale's camp.
The former vice-president's prospects for winning the Massachusetts primary could hinge on the efforts of Governor Dukakis and leaders of the state AFL-CIO, who have wholeheartedly thrown their weight behind him.
Dukakis has campaigned side-by-side with Mondale; Wednesday he spent much of the day stumping in Mondale's behalf in western Massachusetts.
Some observers feel these efforts could give Mondale's candidacy a needed lift in light of the Hart upsets in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. Jesse Jackson, the only other candidate on the Green Mountain State ballot, got 8 percent of the vote.
While activists in either camp are not about to claim victory for their candidate, the Colorado senator may now be the front-runner. Two recent samplings of voter preferences, commissioned by members of the news media, put Hart out front.
Whether McGovern continues his candidacy hinges on a first- or second-place finish for him in the state. McGovern is campaigning in person here, and he will bank on media advertising, including five-minute segments on all network-affiliated TV stations last Monday and again next Monday.