For those who prefer a good horse race for governor instead of a dullsville wire-to-wire blowout, last week’s Emerson College poll offered a ray of hope.

Yes, Maura Healey was still slam dunking on Geoff Diehl by a 52-34% margin. But that’s an improvement over the 31-point spread in the Suffolk poll’s late-July hypothetical matchup. And Emerson has Diehl actually up on Healey among independents, 45-38.

Wow! Shades of Scott Brown in the 2010 US Senate special, the 2004 Red Sox ALCS of Massachusetts politics, right?

Uh, no. Diehl needs to do a hell of a lot better than that among indie voters if he expects to compete. Charlie Baker beat Martha Coakley 63-31% with independents in 2014 and barely squeaked by. And according to pre-election polling in 2010, Brown ran even stronger with the unenrolled, 65-30%.

Diehl shouldn’t be written off. He’ll have multiple televised opportunities to remind swing voters of Healey’s flaws. And in this sketchy economic environment with an apparently unpopular law allowing the undocumented to get driver’s licenses headed for the ballot, Healey might well lose to a popular, moderate, well-funded anti-Trump Republican.

But Charlie Baker isn’t running.

Some leftover hidden winners from primary day:

Former Congressman Joe Kennedy III and Boston City Council President Ed Flynn probably can’t count on future support from Councillor Ricardo Arroyo after they were quick to rescind their endorsements in the wake of Globe reporting on police probes of sexual assault allegations. But for now they hold the high ground of zero tolerance for even a hint of abusive behavior toward women.

Another winner: the “care economy,” a phrase that broadly covers jobs dealing with “thehealth, welfare, maintenance and protection of all people.” State Senate candidate Robyn Kennedy placed it at the center of her upset win over Worcester Mayor Joe Petty, promoting more hiring and better pay for workers in mental health counseling, home health aides and nurses, among other categories. Our aging, pandemic-scarred population will be increasingly demanding those services, and Kennedy’s victory underscores the potency of political focus on them.

And now, everyone’s favorite, some hidden losers:

The most memorable images from Shannon Liss-Riordan’s ubiquitous TV ads were of her clomping enthusiastically along in a variety of protest marches, sledgehammer presumably at the ready. Surely, these were the images that would appeal to left-leaning Democratic primary voters? Instead, she got sledgehammered by Andrea Campbell, whose ads featured gentler images of her in a classroom setting and hanging in the kitchen with her adorable son.

Couple that repudiation of uber-macho politics with the apparent impotence of the ultra-snarky “Markeyverse,” which the ever-gullible, trend-obsessed New York Times last fall called “an influential new force in Democratic politics.” Less than a year later it’s hard to spot a single instance where local kids with itchy Twitter fingers had any impact on last week’s results.

Oops. Never mind.

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Jon Keller has been reporting and commenting on local politics since 1978. A graduate of Brandeis University, he worked in radio as a producer and talk-show host before moving into print journalism at The Tab newspapers and the Boston Phoenix. Freelance credits include the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Boston Magazine, the New Republic and the Washington Post. Since 1991 his "Keller At Large" commentaries and interviews have been a fixture on Boston TV, first on WLVI-TV and, since 2005, on WBZ-TV. He is a 12-time Emmy Award winner for political reporting and commentary. He began his Massterlist column in March 2020.