Poll: Baker Edges Closer to Coakley in Mass. Governor's Race

Friday, 06 Jun 2014 05:44 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Republican candidate Charlie Baker is edging closer to Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat, in Massachusetts' governor's race, a new Boston Globe poll finds, and also holds leads over three other Democratic hopefuls.

"We are now in a real horse race," said pollster John Della Volpe of the results, which puts Coakley at a 37 to 32 percent lead over Baker, the Globe reports. The poll, as part of a series of hypothetical matchups, placed Baker at a 36 to 26 percent lead over Democratic Treasurer Steven Grossman as part of a series of hypothetical matchups.

The poll, which was the first of 20 The Globe plans to conduct this year was conducted by Della Volpe’s firm, SocialSphere Inc., which polled 602 likely Massachusetts voters from May 29 to June 3 on landlines and cellphones. The poll's margin of error is 4 percentage points.

Despite the Globe's findings, Baker may have a way further to go to close the gap with Coakley. According to an average of several national polls reported by Real Clear Politics, Coakley still holds a 13.5 percent lead over Baker.

In the Globe's poll, respondents said they believe their state is in better shape than the country, but are still concerned about the economy, which will likely affect the race to succeed outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick, who will not be running for a third term.

"Someone who will create jobs and is fiscally responsible are the dominant traits that voters look for in a governor," Della Volpe said. "This is the prism through which voters will judge the candidates, at least at this juncture. Unless that changes, the landscape could favor Baker."

The race's two independent candidates could also have an impact on the general election. Venture capital investor Jeffrey McCormick drew from 7 to 9 percent support in the poll, while attorney and former business executive Evan Falchuk is drawing 2 percent.

Della Volpe said, though, that supporters for McCormick or Falchuk do not fall into a "neat partisan framework."

"McCormick voters today look like a Baker voter around fiscal responsibility while they look like Coakley voters when it comes to improving education," he said.

The economy, healthcare, and government fiscal responsibility will also have an impact on the election, with more than half of the poll's respondents saying the economy is most important.

A full 85 percent of respondents said a candidate's ability to improve the economy and create jobs is very important to them, while 82 percent said the candidate's fiscal responsibility is very important.

Education is also a big factor for Massachusetts voters, with 76 percent saying a candidate's commitment to improving public school education is very important.

While Coakley came in behind Baker, she is the best known of the hopefuls. The poll showed that 56 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of her while 36 percent feel unfavorable, and 7 percent said they either didn't recognize her name or can't say what they think of her.

Meanwhile, 44 percent had a favorable opinion of Baker, who lost the gubernatorial race to Patrick in 2010. Another 20 percent have an unfavorable opinion, 15 percent knew his name but couldn't rate him, and yet 22 percent more said they had not heard of him.

The poll showed Grossman has some name recognition issues, with almost 40 percent of respondents saying they didn't recognize his name, even though he was elected as state treasurer in 2010.

The other three Democrats in the race are having even worse problems when it comes to name recognition, the poll found. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they did not recognize former homeland security official Juliette Kayyem's name; 78 percent did not know who biopharmaceutical executive Joseph Avellone is; and another 83 percent did not recognize Medicaid chief Donald Berwick.

Businessman Mark Fisher is challenging Baker for the GOP nomination. Three-quarters of the poll's respondents said they weren't aware of Fisher, who is backed by the tea party. However, 14 percent of the voters in the poll identified themselves as supporting the tea party movement.


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