In case you haven't seen it yet, this morning's Boston Globe features a new poll of Massachusetts residents, who appear to disapprove of their current governor an awful lot, considering that he has not been indicted, been caught having an affair, quit in mid-term, or been seen personally euthanizing animals.
Patrick's net job approval is a stunning -21 (35% approve, 56% disapprove), and his favorables are in the same ballpark (36/52). There is, to my surprise, no gender gap at all in the numbers.
So, the populace thinks the incumbent bites. And yet, when offered the most likely general-ballot choice, he ties with Cahill 30%-30%, with Baker at 20% -- and you can see how tough it's going to be for him to lose. Bear in mind that this Globe poll was of residents, not likely voters -- and that of those who have "definitely" decided who to vote for or are "leaning," he leads handily; it's only the "still decidings" where he trails. Those folks are trouble for him, because it's the bulk of the polling sample, and they're probably mostly deciding between Baker and Cahill -- but let's face it, most of them will still be deciding after the polls close next November, after they failed to get around to voting. Now think of the advantage Patrick will have just because of the statewide get-out-the-vote operation of his organization, the Dem Party, the unions, etc.
Of course, it's still possible that Cahill won't run, or that one of the challengers will turn into a non-factor. But this poll seems like evidence to me that in a serious three-way fight, it's going to be tough for Patrick to lose even if the populace really thinks he sucks -- let alone if he improves that image over the coming 16 months.