One of my friends came back from the polls around 2:30 this afternoon. Apparently, at that time, only 400 people had voted at our polling place, a polling place which covers Cambridge's Ward 2 Precinct 3, Ward 3 Precinct 3, and Ward 5. When he voted, as when I did (around 8:30 am), there were no lines. Something tells me that 400 people is a very small fraction of the total people covered. It's probably safe to assume that a lot of people will be voting after work, but how big a fraction will that be? The polls are only open until 7, which leaves less than 2 hours for most people.
In a neighborhood in which I've seen very little other than Deval Patrick signs, it leaves me to wonder if the polls we've seen up till now are actually representative of the people who vote rather than just the people who are eligible to vote. Sure 51-ish% of the people polled before may prefer Patrick, but who knows if they're actually going to vote. And if Patrick's monstrous lead is eroded, who knows what will actually happen.
My impression from watching the polls and people's opinions over the past few weeks has been that very few people actually like Kerry Healey. I suspect that the vast majority of the 21% of people who poll in her favor are doing so because they're party-line Republican voters and not because they actually like her. Patrick, on the other hand, has all the party-line Democrat voters, plus the moderate Democrats and
many moderate Republicans. Whereas Mihos has the disillusioned voters from both parties, probably a good portion of the Libertarian vote, and those Republicans who don't like Healey but can't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. Ross, well Ross has the environmentalists, and a portion of the gay vote.
While obviously it's difficult to impossible to predict the way the vote will actually break down, my hunch is that low turnout would probably hurt Healey the most, then Patrick, with Mihos and Ross tied for least affected. Healey will be hurt the worse because the people who I think area actually going to vote for her are the ones that are the least emotionally invested in the election. Patrick has obviously done a good job of drumming up public support, he's very charismatic and that's what's going to carry his vote, but he still will suffer when the generic Democrats don't care enough to go to the polls. Mihos and Ross are only getting votes from people who actually care. They don't have the apathetic party-line voters who might or might not show up, which, I think, artificially deflates their ratings in opinion polls.
So my prediction is that in the final count, Mihos and Ross will come up from their previous polling numbers. Not necessarily because people came out to support them who weren't represented in the polls, although I think that will happen for Mihos as well, but because Healey and Patrick will lose votes to apathy. I wouldn't expect Healey to get much more than 17-18% in the final count. Patrick, I think, will remain strong, but still drop to high 30s to low 40s. I'd give Ross around 5%. And maybe I'm being optimistic, but I think Mihos will break well into the double-digits, possibly into the 40s beating even Patrick.