Like the creation of Team Floon, the poll in the Boston Sunday Globe is causing divergent opinions over whether it's for real or disingenuous.
"The bottom line is that we do not believe that the analysis in the Boston Globe today accurately reflects the Mayoral electorate and therefore any conclusions rendered from this poll ought to be viewed very skeptically, at best," according to a memo circulated within challenger Michael Flaherty's camp and obtained by the Reporter.
The Globe poll, taken between Oct. 10 and Oct. 15 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, shows Mayor Thomas Menino ahead by 20 points, 52 percent to City Councillor At-Large Flaherty's 32 percent.
And it also indicates that while an anti-incumbent fervor appears to be hitting other parts of Massachusetts (and the nation), that wave has yet to reach Boston's shores. (The Globe poll shows that Menino's approval rating has slipped seven percent to 66 percent.)
But an internal poll taken by the Flaherty campaign around the same time as the Globe poll shows a tighter gap of 48 percent for Menino to Flaherty's 38 percent. Fourteen percent of voters are undecided in the Flaherty poll, while the Globe poll has 38 percent.
The Flaherty camp's poll also suggested 44 percent of respondents believe Menino has done a "fine job," but it's time for "someone new."
The Globe poll was the subject of joking asides throughout a Sunday campaign gathering of "Progressives for Menino" at SEIU Local 615â€™s union hall. (The group included numerous Menino administration officials, affordable housing and environmental advocates, Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral, local human services lobbyist Judy Meredith and former Patrick administration official Lora Pellegrini.)
After citing the Globe's poll numbers, Menino asked supporters in the room to spread his campaign's message of "Moving Boston Forward" because the Boston media won't.
"They want to talk about emails," he said, referring to the controversy over top Menino aide Michael Kineavy's continuous deletion of emails, a possible violation of the state's public records law.
The city posted online 13,000 of the emails, Menino told the crowd, as Kineavy, who has taken an unpaid leave of absence from his City Hall job, stood in the back of the union hall watching and taking phone calls.
"All they could find out was we took care of someone's sewer," Menino said.
(According to the Globe poll, 57 percent say the email controversy has no impact on their vote; 34 percent say it does. The Flaherty poll has voters split on whether to take Menino's side or Flaherty's side over the controversy.)
Flaherty supporters are arguing the Globe poll is off: the poll apparently does not ask whether people were registered to vote, is off in its use of the demographic of Boston voters and is based on an inflated turnout model.
They say their internal poll is more targeted and includes definite voters.
Some of the surprise over the Globe poll's results isn't limited to those close to the campaigns. Chuck Todd, NBC's political director, linked to the Globe report on the poll and wrote on Twitter, "Thot this race was closer than that?"
UPDATE: Jon Romano, Flaherty's campaign manager, sent out an email to supporters shortly after 6:30 p.m. Sunday:
Over the last week, we conducted an internal poll through John Della Volpe from SocialSphere. John is one of the best pollsters in Massachusetts who has a history of accurately predicting elections on the municipal, state and federal level. The results of his poll are positive - this election is a 7-10 point horserace based on the likely pool of actual voters on November 3rd.
While today you may have read the Boston Globe poll which offers different results, the fact of the matter is that we never thought this race was going to be easy.
Despite being outspent by Menino by a margin of about 2:1 on TV, our campaign continues to gain positive momentum. Menino's base continues to erode, while our vote is expanding and strengthening in every neighborhood in the city.
Regardless of the polls and the point spread, we knew we were challenging a 16-year incumbent with a significant fundraising advantage. But, we also know that in order to achieve real progress in Boston, we cannot wait four more years or rely on yesterday's approach to address the problems of today.
This is an extraordinary election - and a race that we can win. Boston has always been a city of underdogs. Historically, we have high expectations for our leadership and we are a citizenry never satisfied with the status quo. But, for the last few years, a culture of complacency has set in. We need to demand real progress and motivate voters to usher in a new era of leadership.
We need your help to fight hard for change in Boston. Whether it's a twenty point difference or a seven point gap in the polls, we are going to fight for every vote in every corner of every neighborhood. Boston is our city. It belongs to all of us. It is time that we raise our own expectations.
We need to transform city government to welcome in the 21st Century with new technology, innovation, diversity of thought and fresh ideas.
With your help, there can be a new Mayor of Boston on November 3rd.
Let's win this race,
P.S. Read a different interpretation of the Globe poll from the Boston Phoenix.