Well, first up: I think Kerry Healey is in trouble, and I'm not sure she realizes why. My gut says that her ads are badly misaimed for the time and place she's in. Her first attempt made her look like a bloody housewife; not a good start. That one seems to have been dropped, but she's now going for pure Traditional Republican. It's interesting to realize that an ad can *feel* Republican. It's all about superficially calming tones, coupled with Deep Concern About Those Evil Democrats; the tone is supposed to be reassuring, but the line between that and patronizing is thin.
Worse, her ads show a real lack of imagination. I mean, the big issue she's pushing is auto insurance rates -- okay, yes, everyone wishes they were lower, but it kind of fails the Inspirational Issue test at the moment. She's trying very hard to push the usual meme of "Democrats are irresponsible big spenders", but after six years of *absolute* fiscal irresponsibility in a purely Rebublican-controlled Washington, I think that line is largely used up. (And she's not helping by trying to roll back the gas tax at the same time she's saying that, which doesn't make her look any more responsible.) And her attempts to paint herself as a candidate of change sound a little insincere, given that had plenty of time in the number-two job to work on this stuff. Granted, at the moment I think that *any* Republican would have a hard time of it. But it looks to me like she's heading for a slaughter in November.
The Democrats aren't making her life any easier -- they are running for the Hard Center pretty effectively, limiting her room to maneuver.
First, there is Deval Patrick, who was (last I checked) still in the lead despite a striking lack of TV ads. His message seems to be very simple and effective: "Hey, I'm a New Democrat. Remember us? The ones who ran the White House for eight years without the sort of idiocy we've got now?" Interestingly, despite him presenting himself as broadly pro-business, he's the favorite among the liberal crowd.
Then there's Gabrieli, who is pushing the non-partisan line to its limits. He's painting himself as a pure technocrat, with only very loose party affiliation. That's a smart line, given the number of people yearning for genuine bipartisan statesmanship at this point. So despite having an ad campaign that I find downright hokey (the man needs to find the people who gave Al Gore his recent charisma transplant), he's been moving steadily up in the polls, especially among conservatives who would like a palatable Democratic alternative.
It's conspicuous that Tom Reilly was still trailing last I looked, despite running by far the most aggressive and focused ad campaign. He's the only person who has gone negative, and he's scoring some reasonably good points. But he's an insider, and the inside is not a terribly good place to be right now. (I also notice that, despite being the favorite of the "moderate" Democrats, he's the only one flirting with traditional Democratic class-warfare tactics in his advertising.)
What's most noticeable, though, is the discipline among the Democratic campaigns. I don't know if there was a tacit agreement among the candidates, or if it's pressure from the national party, but they are treating each other with kid gloves. That's a nice change after 2000, when the Democratic primary was so vicious and damaging that Romney was able to sweep in and look like the only one above the fray. This time, there's none of that: all of the vitriol is focused on -- well, Romney, really. Perhaps the nastiest and most effective tack they're using against Healey is that she's largely being treated as an appendage to Romney...