With three weeks left in the 2010 election cycle, Democratic incumbent Gov. Deval Patrick (46 percent) leads Republican Charlie Baker (39 percent) by 7 points in the Massachusetts race for governor, according to the latest Suffolk University/7News poll. Independent candidate Tim Cahill has 10 percent, while Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein has just 1 percent. Only 4 percent of likely voters remain undecided.

“Deval Patrick’s lead is driven by some core levels of support,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “These core demographics - coupled with the perceptions that he has run the best campaign and has the best temperament to be governor - are driving forces as the governor’s race enters this final stretch.”

Patrick leads by 11 points among women and older voters. He also leads the Worcester West-area of the state by 19 points, and Suffolk County by 55 points. Baker is ahead in the Southeast Massachusetts/Cape region by 9 points and among Independents statewide by 16 points. In both of these categories, Tim Cahill is still a thorn in the GOP nominee’s side, as he is garnering 14 percent of Independents and 14 percent of Southeast Massachusetts/Cape.

Cahill voters would break to Baker by a 38 percent Baker -31 percent Patrick margin; although 15 percent said they will stay with Cahill, regardless of whether he is a viable candidate.

When asked if they approve or disapprove of the job the Governor is doing, 45 percent of likely voters said they approved, 44 percent said they disapproved, and 12 percent remain undecided. However, when asked if Deval Patrick deserved to be re-elected or if it is time to give someone else a chance, 48 percent of likely voters said give someone else a chance, 42 percent said he deserves re-election, and 10 percent remain undecided.

Amid the current controversy surrounding a lawsuit filed by Independent candidate Tim Cahill claiming his campaign for governor was sabotaged by his own aides working with Charlie Baker, 80 percent of likely voters said they were aware of the lawsuit and 18 percent said they were not aware. However, when asked if Cahill’s claims made them more likely to vote for a candidate, 38 percent of likely voters said there was no difference in who they would vote for, while 25 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Patrick, 23 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Baker, and 7 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Cahill.

When asked who has the best temperament to be governor, 44 percent said Deval Patrick, 20 percent said Charlie Baker, 9 percent said Tim Cahill, 2 percent said Jill Stein, and 24 percent of likely voters remain undecided.

Finally, regardless of who they personally support, 53 percent expect Patrick will be re-elected governor, while 31 percent said Baker, 2 percent said Cahill, and 14 percent of likely voters remain undecided.

Current ballot questions in Massachusetts that were polled include a question on reducing the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent. Forty-four percent of likely voters said they support cutting the sales tax, 49 percent said they oppose cutting the sales tax, and 6 percent remain undecided.

Another ballot question polled concerns the elimination of added sales take on alcohol Forty-six percent of likely voters said they support this elimination, 47 percent said they oppose it, and 7 percent remain undecided. However, when asked if they would be more or less likely to support the current sales tax on alcohol if the revenues were earmarked for alcohol and substance abuse programs rather than for the general fund, 40 percent of likely voters said they would be more likely to support the sales tax, and 32 percent of likely voters said they would be less likely to support the sales tax.

Methodology

The statewide survey of 500 Massachusetts likely voters was conducted Oct.10-12, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data will be posted Thursday Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site: www.suffolk.edu/college/1450.html. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.