64 Percent of Likely GOP Voters Support Romney in Mass. Primary

Former Gov. Mitt Romney can expect strong support from likely Massachusetts voters in the Republican presidential primary, but general election voters put President Barack Obama in front in head-to-head contests with each of the four leading Republicans, according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WHDH-Boston) poll.

And while 89 percent of voters expect Gov. Deval Patrick to complete his term, 60 percent do not want him to run for president in 2016, a possibility some pundits raise in light of Patrick’s signing two new book deals.

GOP horse race

Sixty-four percent of likely voters in the March 6 Massachusetts GOP presidential primary said they would choose Romney, with Rick Santorum running second at 16 percent, Ron Paul at 7 percent and Newt Gingrich at 6 percent. Six percent were undecided.

“While voters in other states may look askance at Mitt Romney’s accomplishments as governor of Massachusetts, Republican and many independent voters here appear eager to support him in the primary,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “However, when it comes to the general election, it looks like the Democrat will once again prevail in Massachusetts.”

In one-on-one matchups, Obama was the preference of Massachusetts registered voters polled, besting Romney 53 percent to 39 percent; Santorum 59 percent to 32 percent; Paul 60 percent to 26 percent; and Gingrich 63 percent to 23 percent. Fifty-nine percent of all voters expect Obama to remain in office as president after the 2012 elections.

Coakley favored for governor in 2014

Looking ahead to the 2014 gubernatorial race, Attorney General Martha Coakley (43 percent) had the strongest support among likely Democratic voters, followed by Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, 11 percent; Newton Mayor Setti Warren, 8 percent; State Treasurer Steve Grossman; 7 percent; and State Auditor Suzanne Bump, 1 percent.

“Martha Coakley’s numbers prove that there can be a second chance in politics,” said Paleologos. "But anything can happen over the next two years, and with 31 percent of Democratic voters choosing candidates other than those named or refusing to answer, there’s plenty of opportunity for a dark horse to emerge in this race.”

Most voters (75 percent) were aware of Murray’s November 2011 car accident, which has been analyzed by the State Police and the media, and 62 percent said the details of the accident would not affect the likelihood that they would vote for him in the future, while 32 percent said they would be less likely to vote for him.

Political Spending

Most Massachusetts voters (81 percent) oppose the Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want in support of political candidates, and 78 percent said that the resulting spending is having a negative effect on elections in Massachusetts.

Tax issues

Sixty-five percent of voters said that they would support increasing income taxes on those earning over $250,000 a year, while 17 percent support across-the-board increases, and 15 percent want no income tax boost. But 59 percent oppose restricting mortgage interest deductions to households earning $140,000 or less, while 33 percent support that limit.


The statewide survey of 600 Massachusetts registered voters was conducted Feb. 11-15, 2012, using live telephone interviews of landline and cell phone users. The margin of error is +/-4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and cross-tabulation data for all questions will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website at 11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.