Riding the coattails of Scott Brown’s upset win for U.S. Senate, Republican Charlie Baker has jumped into second place and is within striking distance of Gov. Deval Patrick in a tight gubernatorial race, according to the latest Suffolk University/7News poll.
Patrick (33 percent) still leads the tightening field, followed by Baker (25 percent), who edges out Independent candidate and State Treasurer Tim Cahill (23 percent). Green Party candidate Jill Stein has 3 percent, while 16 percent are undecided. In a November, 2009 poll, Patrick led Cahill 36 percent to 26 percent, while Baker, the former Harvard Pilgrim chief executive, was a distant third with only 15 percent.
“Charlie Baker has nearly doubled since the Scott Brown win,” said David Paleologos, Director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “Baker is where Brown was two weeks before the Senate election – he still trails, but he is surging and within striking distance.”
Baker (47 percent) has also strongly overtaken fellow Republican Christy Mihos (17 percent) in the Republican Primary for Governor. In the November Suffolk University/7NEWS poll, Mihos led Baker 33 percent to 30 percent in the GOP Primary.
In the Democratic Primary for Governor, Deval Patrick led his Primary opponent, Grace Ross, by a 59 percent to 15 percent margin with 26 percent undecided.
Patrick’s unfavorable rating among all registered voters has hit 50 percent, while 38 percent have a favorable view. And 60 percent say it’s time to give someone else a chance compared to 29 percent who say Patrick deserves to be re-elected.
Scott Brown Voters
Despite high popularity (61 percent favorable – 24 percent unfavorable), there are some potential warning signs for Republican Sen. Scott Brown. When self-identified Brown voters were asked why they voted for him in the January 19 special Senate election, less than half (47 percent) said he was the best candidate for the job, while 24 percent said it was a vote against the proposed national healthcare plan, 10 percent said it was more of a vote against Martha Coakley, 10 percent said it was a vote against Democrats in general, and 7 percent said it was more of a vote against Barack Obama.
“For many voters, Brown’s win was about opposition to the proposed national health-care plan, Democratic leadership in Washington and Democrats in general,” Paleologos said. “If he doesn’t demonstrate his independence in Washington, those fickle protest voters may return to a popular Democratic candidate in two years, when Brown will be campaigning for re-election.”
Among those who voted for Brown in the Jan. 19 special election, 43 percent say they would vote for Baker, 28 percent would pick Cahill, 11 percent chose Patrick and 2 percent picked Stein, while 16 percent of Brown voters remain undecided for governor.
Voters also weighed in on two possible tax cutting ballot measures. Currently, 49 percent of registered voters support reducing the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, while 44 percent oppose the question and 7 percent were undecided.
Voters also supported the elimination of the added sales tax on alcohol by a 54 percent to 39 percent margin with 7 percent undecided.
Casinos in Massachusetts were supported by a 57 percent to 34 percent margin with 9 percent undecided.
Despite no organized party in Massachusetts, 13 percent of Massachusetts voters said they would cast a ballot for a Tea Party candidate in an election for U.S. Congress in their district, while 21 percent would vote Republican and 45 percent would vote Democratic.
The make-up of the self-identified Tea Party voters in Massachusetts was as follows:
• Independents 72 percent, Republicans 17 percent, Democrats 9 percent
• Men 62 percent, Women 38 percent
• 45-64 years 60 percent
The statewide survey of 500 Massachusetts registered voters was conducted Feb. 21-24, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Some questions have been embargoed until Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11p.m. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data totaling 450 pages will be posted at that time on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, firstname.lastname@example.org.