As of 3:00 this afternoon, just under 60,000 ballots had been cast in Boston -- a 16.7% turnout so far, with five hours left, including the after-work rush. Based on the trends in the preliminary -- which had a relatively high late vote -- we can expect roughly 115,000 votes.
One thing I'm looking for is where voting is up (or not) relative to the September preliminary -- and were those Menino strongholds or anti-Menino neighborhoods in the preliminary?
To make a long story short, I plugged the 3:00 numbers into a secret, proprietary, Bernstein-patented conversion machine... and the results indicated that so far it's been a wash -- no clear advantage to either candidate.
I should warn you that this conversion mechanism is largely untested and highly experimental, so I wouldn't put too much stock in its results.
Anyway, what you might take away from this half-assed analysis is that IF Flaherty captured the vast bulk of Yoon and McCrea voters, then it could be fairly close. If those votes split for Flaherty 80/20, then all else being equal Menino wins roughly 55/45, by my estimate. And if you assume -- as the Flaherty folks certainly believe, but the recent Globe poll rejects -- that there's been a discernable recent shift from Menino toward Flaherty since September, then you get down into single-digits, and perhaps very close indeed.
On the other hand, be aware that in the preliminary the Menino vote-pulling machine went into overdrive after work, and completely changed the turnout game board. That could, in particular, mean a greater increase in turnout among Boston's black residents than the Bernstein conversion machine is seeing as of 3:00.
Which brings us back to what I've been saying for a while now: to make it a real ballgame, I believe Flaherty needs to really cut into Menino's percentages in the black communities. He can't be losing Ward 8 and Ward 14 by 70-30 margins. I'm skeptical that he can narrow that gap enough. We'll see.
BTW, I've been on record for a while predicting Menino 54%-46%.