BOSTON (CBS) – That’s two polls in a row showing the race for Governor of Massachusetts in a virtual dead heat. And while matching polls in September don’t prove much with the meat of the campaign still ahead, it wouldn’t surprise me if those results were right on target for the moment.

As the Democratic nominee in a state that has elected only three Republicans to statewide office in the last 20 years, you’d expect Martha Coakley to be a frontrunner in this race, and that may still happen. Massachusetts Democrats know how to organize and get out the vote, as does organized labor.

READ MORE: NH Police Searching For Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Elijah Lewis

Add in the frustration many women feel about the state’s failure to ever elect a female governor and you’ve got a path to victory for Coakley that is easier than Charlie Baker’s.

But there are circumstances under which a Republican can win here.

Part of it is charisma. Weld, Cellucci, Romney and Scott Brown had it, their opponents didn’t. Ditto Deval Patrick.

I doubt Baker will ever be called “Reaganesque,” but this category is no slam-dunk for the Democrats this time around.

Another circumstance is voter unrest. A solid 40% tell pollsters the state is going in the wrong direction.

It certainly hasn’t gotten any cheaper to live here.

READ MORE: Case Of Rat-Borne Bacterial Disease Identified In Boston

And that brings us to an underdiscussed factor in this election – the issues.

If the swing voters want more of the Patrick era, Coakley will be fine. If they watch the debates and see Baker effectively arguing for change, she may not be.

Campaigns do matter. Baker and Coakley now have to debate, fend off the three independents, and try to frame the issues to their advantage.

And the polls show they better be ready to bring their “A” game.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

MORE NEWS: 12-Year-Old Boy Struck By Car, Seriously Injured In Taunton

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON
[display-posts category=”local” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”4?”]

Jon Keller