Surprise coming in MA gubernatorial race?

After this week’s dreary news out of Kansas, we owe Hot Air readers a pleasant surprise, and this may be it. Martha Coakley, who lost a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy four years ago despite the near-total grip Democrats have on Massachusetts, may be in the process of losing another election. Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker took his first lead in the Boston Globe poll series, edging Coakley barely, while neither candidate looks to be catching fire:

Republican Charlie Baker has edged ahead of Democrat Martha Coakley in the race for governor, taking the lead by the slimmest of margins for the first time in the Globe’s weekly poll.

The survey found the hypothetical general election race in a statistical dead heat, with 38 percent of respondents saying they would support Baker for governor, a slight edge over the 37 percent who said they favor Coakley. Though Baker’s lead remains well within the margin of error, it shows movement in a race between the two likeliest candidates for the November election.

Coakley still faces two Democratic rivals in the Sept. 9 party primary, but the poll found she maintains a solid lead, claiming the support of 46 percent of likely voters. Comparatively, 24 percent support Steve Grossman, the state treasurer, and 10 percent back health care expert Donald Berwick.

That’s a rather significant shift, although not a significant lead for Baker. Last month, Coakley had a double-digit lead, and in two polls earlier his month was up by seven. Baker has become more aggressive of late in advertising, and Coakley is still dealing with primary challengers, but just as in the 2010 special election, she seems to fade the more voters get to see her campaign.

Readers may remember Berwick as the man who adores the British health-care system whom Barack Obama put in charge of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement ObamaCare. Obama didn’t even give the Senate a chance to vote on his appointment, even though Democrats had the majority; he used a recess appointment in a manner which the courts now say would be illegal. Berwick stepped down before his recess appointment needed to be confirmed, and decided to run for governor in Massachusetts. His relative position in the race suggests that some people may be too liberal for Bay State voters, which may come as a surprise to some.

What’s even more surprising is the second choice of Grossman’s voters. Almost half of Grossman’s backers (48%) will vote for Baker over Coakley, according to the new poll, while only 28% will commit to voting for Coakley, leaving another 24% either undecided or on the sidelines. Bear in mind that these are Democrats planning to vote in the primary, not a general-population survey. That doesn’t make Grossman a better candidate against Baker, though; the Republican has a slightly better lead against Grossman (37/33) than against Coakley, and Baker blows Berwick out of the water at 44/19 in a hypothetical matchup.

Don’t get too excited at the moment, though. These numbers all look low, and that means a lot of voters are still making up their minds. Plenty can happen over the next two months to change these dynamics, and the end of the primary will no doubt allow for some healing among Democrats, albeit on a very short time line. It’s still worth noting that Coakley’s going the wrong direction late in the game, and we’ve seen that once before, too.