In the latest Boston Globe poll, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is still ahead but with an unimpressive 38 percent of the vote. At 31 percent, Republican Charlie Baker is nipping at Patrick’s heels. Democrat-turned-independent Tim Cahill lags well behind at 9 percent, only running ahead of perenial Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
While Patrick has gained ground in recent months, these results have to be at least somewhat encouraging to voters who want him unseated. The concern was that Baker and Cahill would split the center-right vote, which even in Massachusetts can be large enough to win at the ballot box (think Scott Brown), allowing Patrick to win a plurality. This scenario seemed to be playing out during the spring, when Baker and Cahill were mostly attacking each other and Patrick was gaining high marks for his handling of local issues like the water main break and flooding in Massachusetts communities. One poll had Patrick at 45 percent with neither Cahill nor Baker in striking distance.
But there was always an alternative scenario: That Patrick’s underlying unpopularity would come back to bite him and the voters would settle on one of the other two contenderes as their anti-Patrick candidate. Cahill had an opening to become that candidate when he actually led Baker in January. Since then Baker — with a little help from the Republican Govenrors Association — has made major inroads toward becoming that candidate.