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    Poll shows Connolly, Walsh leading in race to succeed Menino

    Councilor at Large John R. Connolly has a thin early lead in the 12-candidate Boston mayoral race, with state Representative Martin J. Walsh close behind and two other candidates near the top, a new poll indicates.

    Twelve percent of the 600 respondents in the Suffolk University-Boston Herald poll said they planned to vote for Connolly, while 11 percent supported Walsh. The poll, released Tuesday night, had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percent.

    Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley finished third with 9 percent, followed by Councilor Robert Consalvo, who had 8 percent. Councilor Michael P. Ross and Charlotte Golar Richie, a former state representative, each had 5 percent. Forty percent of voters were undecided.

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    Nathaniel Stinnett, Connolly’s campaign manager, welcomed the results.

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    “This poll shows the strength of our campaign and our message,” he said in a statement. “The more voters learn about John and his experience as a teacher who taught kids from every neighborhood in Boston, the more they believe that he is the candidate who can and will transform our public schools and lead this city forward as its next mayor.”

    Michael Goldman, a political consultant and senior adviser to the Walsh campaign, was also pleased.

    “This poll certainly gives the campaign confidence that if Marty Walsh works hard enough, reaches out and speaks to enough voters, and constructs the kind of get-out-the-vote effort the organization is capable of building, it’s that which will result in electoral victories,” Goldman said.

    The candidates will square off in a preliminary election Sept. 24, and the top two vote-getters will meet in a general election Nov. 5.

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    Councilor at Large Felix G. Arroyo had the highest favorability rating at 51 percent, followed by Connolly with 49 percent, and Conley with 43 percent. Mayor Thomas M. Menino has held the office for two decades, and while 82 percent of respondents viewed him favorably, many signaled a readiness for change.

    While six of the candidates are vying to become the city’s first mayor of color, 60 percent of respondents said it was “not at all important” that a minority be elected. An additional 20 percent said it was “not very important,” 14 percent said it was “somewhat important,” and 4 percent thought it was “very important.”

    Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com.