Yeah, yeah, it’s early, polls don’t mean anything at this point, blah blah blah. Still, Tom Reilly can’t be too psyched about the latest UMass-Lowell poll, which shows that his previously-solid leads over both Deval Patrick in the primary and Kerry Healey in the general election have evaporated. Here’s the Globe’s helpful graphic of the biggest results:
The poll also shows Patrick and Healey in a dead-heat general election, with the result within the poll’s margin of error.
A couple of observations. First, this poll is very good news for Deval Patrick. Perhaps most importantly, his “Deval who?” numbers seem finally to be dropping – only 20% claim to be “undecided” in a Democratic primary between Reilly and Patrick. Of course it’s also good news for him that he seems to have converted some Reilly voters, but to me anyway, it’s actually more important that his campaign is starting to reach non-political junkies.
The poll is also good news for Kerry Healey, who for whatever reason is making a much stronger showing against Tom Reilly. This may be more because of what Reilly has done than anything Healey has done (since she hasn’t done much lately), but nonetheless, she comes out of this looking pretty good.
Christy Mihos at this point appears only to play a spoiler role – where he was included in the questions, he tended to siphon off votes from Healey that resulted in Democratic wins. But Mihos really hasn’t started spending money yet, so I wouldn’t put much stock in those numbers.
Overall, the poll seems to confirm that Tom Reilly’s stumbles over the last few weeks have resonated beyond the world of those addicted to politics (81% of the poll’s respondents claimed to be either “very” or “somewhat” familiar with the St. Fleuriasco, with 56% of respondents saying it would make them less likely to vote for Reilly). And yes, there’s plenty of time for Reilly to recover. But he’d better start thinking about what, exactly, a “recovery” would involve – it’s going to have to be more than not screwing up again. It seems fair to me to say that, having made so many major errors early on, he can no longer coast on his warchest and his assumed backing of the insiders and the party establishment. He has to give the voters a reason to vote for him. He’s no longer the default choice. And that’s probably a good thing for him, since beating Kerry Healey may not actually be so easy.