As Labor Day draws near, the race for governor of Massachusetts remains very competitive.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Bay State finds Patrick with 39 percent support, while Republican Charlie Baker picks up 34 percent of the vote. Democrat-turned-Independent candidate Tim Cahill continues to trail with 18 percent. One percent prefer some other candidate and 8 percent are undecided.
The current figures are little changed from a month ago and the race remains rated as Leans Democrat in the Rasmussen Reports 2010 Gubernatorial Scoreboard.
The fluid nature of the race is highlighted by the fact that a large segment of the electorate is still open to changing their mind. Just 64 percent of Patrick’s supporters are certain that they will vote for him and won’t change their mind. Only 58 percent of Baker’s supporters are that certain.
Not surprisingly, the level of certainty is lowest for the third party candidate — 28 percent of Cahill’s supporters are sure they will end up voting for him.
As a result, when leaners are included, the race at the top becomes even closer — Patrick 44 percent, Baker 42 percent, and Cahill 8 percent.
Leaners are those who initially indicate no preference for either of the candidates but answer a follow-up question and say they are leaning toward a particular candidate.
The approach anticipates the fact that support for third-party candidates typically declines as Election Day draws near. This is the first Election 2010 survey in Massachusetts to include leaners.
Early in any campaign, the numbers without leaners are generally more significant. Later in a campaign, the numbers with leaners matter more.
It is important to note that the percentage who say they’ll vote for someone other than the incumbent has held steady around the 50 percent mark all year. In the current survey, 52 percent say they’ll vote against Patrick when first asked while 50 percent say the same when leaners are included.
The survey of 500 Likely Voters in Massachusetts was conducted on Sept. 1, 2010, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 percentage points. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.
Patrick is viewed Very Favorably by 21 percent of Massachusetts voters and Very Unfavorably by 27 percent. Those numbers reflect a slight improvement for the governor.
For Baker, Very Favorables are 10 percent and Very Unfavorables are at 8 percent.
Five percent have a Very Favorable opinion of Cahill, while 14 percent view him Very Unfavorably.
Patrick remains by far the best-known candidate, but at this stage of the campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the Very Favorable and Very Unfavorable figures more significant than the overall favorability totals.
Sixty-four percent view Patrick as politically liberal while 21 percent say moderate.
For Baker, the numbers are 62 percent conservative and 21 percent moderate.
Cahill, a former Democrat, is seen as moderate by 38 percent, conservative by 33 percent, and liberal by 18 percent.
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