New poll gives Republican Geoff Diehl glimmer of hope for his underdog campaign
By  | | Boston Herald

Republican Geoff Diehl has a glimmer of hope for his underdog gubernatorial campaign from a new poll showing him trailing Democrat Maura Healey by double digits but leading among independent voters.

Healey’s surprising weakness among unenrolled voters — who make up about half of the Massachusetts electorate — should be a warning sign for Democrats not to take the governor’s race for granted. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker got elected twice by rolling up big margins among independents.

Diehl leads among independents by a 45% to 38% margin, according to the 7NEWS/Emerson College poll of 708 somewhat or very likely voters conducted just after Tuesday’s primary.

Healey leads overall by a 52% to 34% margin, a comfortable 18 points but a narrower margin than earlier polls. A total of 12% of voters remain undecided.

Given the Democrats’ overwhelming strength in Massachusetts, and Diehl’s close ties to former President Donald Trump, Healey should be in a stronger position right now.

“These numbers tell me that a big block of voters fear Democrats like Attorney General Maura Healey are mostly interested in pandering to the far left’s agenda, just like what’s going on in Washington, and her record shows they have every right to be concerned,” Mass GOP Chairman Jim Lyons said.

The poll could be detecting a far left backlash. Healey could be hurt if voters think she’s too close to the far left. Progressive candidates got trounced in Tuesday’s primary, showing Massachusetts voters aren’t as far left as some might think.

The No. 1 issue for Massachusetts voters is the economy, according to the poll, and that should also help Diehl. The economy was the top issue for 41% of voters, followed by abortion access at 16%, according to the 7NEWS/Emerson College poll.

Fifty percent of undecided voters cite the economy as the top issue, while 16% of undecideds chose education and 13% picked housing affordability as the No. 1 issue..

These numbers suggest Diehl could attract late deciding voters by trying to stoke fears among voters that inflation would get worse under Healey and she will raise taxes.

Diehl’s biggest problems in the race are his pro-life views and his association with Trump, who remains very unpopular among non-Republican voters.

In a hypothetical 2024 matchup, President Joe Biden leads Trump by a 54% to 34% margin, showing Massachusetts voters aren’t keen on putting Trump back in the White House.

Healey is likely to hammer on the Trump issue for as long as she can get away with it.

Diehl should not run from Trump but directly confront Healey to make her run against him – not the former president.

But if Diehl, a former state legislator who led the effort to repeal a gas tax hike, can convince undecided and independent voters that he’ll focus on the economy, he could narrow Healey’s big lead.

And two final words for Healey: Scott Brown.