Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Globe Poll on 2010 Race

Ok - doldromus interuptus...

Today's Sunday Globe headlines a new poll featuring a lot of bad news for Governor Patrick. A few highlights...

  • Patrick's unfavorable rating is 52% with 36% viewing him positively. A sizable minority of registered Democrats disapprove as well. Approval among Independents who propelled him to his post in 2006 is only 28%.
  • 61% of respondents agree that Massachusetts is on the wrong track - bad news for any incumbent.
  • In a hypothetical three way race with Cahill, Baker, and Patrick it is essentially a tie between Cahill and Patrick with baker running a few points behind. The Cahill factor looms large as a head to head race between Baker and Patrick show Baker winning by 6 points. If this holds, it tells me that Cahill is hurting Baker more than hurting Patrick. The internals show Independents breaking to Cahill in a three way race and to Baker in a two way race.
  • 63% of the sample don't know who Baker is - he needs to put a lot of effort into defining himself. In this case, the contested primary with Mihos should help do that. Mihos is better known, but has rather high unfavorables.
  • Cahill starts with relatively good name recognition and high personal approvals. If this were a head on head challenge to Patrick in the Democratic Primary, Patrick would have a fight on his hands. I don't see this as likely right now, but possibly Cahill does really catch fiore and becomes the "anti-Patrick" in this race.
  • Patrick has substantial support among those with graduate degrees and suburban liberals. This will be the base he needs to hang on to the governorship.
The Mihos/Baker race is polled as well but there were only 147 respondents for that question. The numbers show a statistical ties, but people are not paying any attention to this race...yet!

The poll, conducted among 545 respondents statewide from July 15 to 21, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. It is a poll of adults and not voters. That coupled with the large margin of error makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions regarding the actual race in terms of candidate support, but it does indicate mounting problems for the governor. The hypothetical matches are a fun exercise, but really don't tell us much at this point except that there is a lot of antipathy toward the governor and that nobody knows who Charlie Baker is yet.

Last month I gave Governor Patrick a 65% chance of winning reelection. Based on this poll and other ongoing political factors, I am dropping that to 55%. Cahill may end up being the governor's political savior in the end - if he was not in the race, I would give Baker a slightly better then even chance to take Patrick out.


The Prof

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Doldrums

Hi all,

All quiet on the political front - at least in terms of the governor's race. Hot summer in DC with health reform - something that I track on a daily basis...

The Pulse will feature an upcoming piece on what is happening with that most complicated of topics. We will need a scorecard to get thru the competing proposals and intense politics surrounding this.

Please stay tuned...same bat time - same batty Prof...


The Prof

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Charlie Baker joins the race

Wow - the news is coming fast and furious this week! First Tim Cahill (he has not officially announced, but is very likely to do so in the next few weeks) and now Harvard-Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker has jumped into the gubernatorial pool.

I am a little surprised at the timing of his announcement during one of the slowest news weeks of the year. It may have been in reaction to Cahill (see my previous posting) but was likely planned in advance to allow him maximum time to raise money (and to resign from Harvard-Pilgrim). Charlie needs to raise money fast to up his name recognition and to take on the well-funded Christy Mihos for the Republican nomination.

The Republican establishment seems to be very happy and relieved that he is running as Christy has never held much appeal for them. That feeling is mutual as Mihos was quoted today as running as an outsider and anti-establishment candidate. Also, it looks like state senator Scott Brown won't be a candidate as he was enthusiastically touting Baker on the evening news.

How will Baker play? His detractors will undoubtedly paint him as privileged, the head of an "evil" HMO (watch for people to come out of the woodwork complaining about being denied benefits), and overseeing the big dig as Secretary of Administration and Finance under William Weld and Paul Cellucci.

His advocates will tout the success story of Harvard-Pilgrim which will resonate during these dire economic times. It appears that Baker is positioning himself as a social moderate and fiscal conservative much in the model of former governor Weld. The contrasts between him and Governor Patrick will be very distinct. As I mentioned in a previous posting, this election will ultimately be a referendum on the sitting Governor.

My early read on him is that he is the real deal and will play well, although he will make his share of rookie mistakes. His previous electoral experience was a stint as a member of the Board of Selectmen in the Town of Swampscott. This lack of experience means that he will need to rapidly assemble a professional team around him to hone his political skills and crank up his organization.

Baker vs. Mihos promises to make for a fun 14 months until the September 2010 primary - they are both businessmen, but have very different personalities and messages.

Once we can digest all this news along with new polls that will be released in the next several weeks, I will revisit my odds on the governor's race. My initial read gave Deval Patrick a 65% chance of reelection. Cahill promises to be a real wildcard as he could split the anti-Patrick vote or may deny Patrick the Democratic votes that he will need to win. Baker and Mihos do need to be careful about beating each other up too badly in their battle for the good of the party.

Remember, in a three way race, the winning percentage is 34%. The math gets a lot trickier with a trifecta of major candidates.

This is potent candy for us political junkies! Onwards!

The Prof

Monday, July 6, 2009


Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill is leaving the Democratic Party and is re-registering as unenrolled (independent). This is big news as Cahill is now better poised to make a gubernatorial run as an independent. Governor Patrick controls most of the levers of power in the State Democratic Party and the speculation is that Cahill would have trouble getting enough support at the party convention to secure a spot on next year's primary ballot.

This is mixed news for Republicans Charlie Baker and Christy Mihos If Cahill does make an independent run, the danger for Patrick is that conservative Democrats throw their support to Cahill and he loses critical blue-collar votes. The danger for Republicans is that Cahill siphons conservative Democrats and independents that would support a Republican candidate and splits the anti-Patrick vote.

Can Cahill win the election itself? My initial reaction is that it is unlikely, but if the Republicans nominate Mihos, I think he would have a better chance in winning independent votes. It also depends on how well he can raise money and build a political apparatus to win a fiercely contested race.

My gut tells me that this is more likely to split the anti-Patrick vote and won't hurt Patrick as badly as some may think...time will tell.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Poll on 2010 MA Gubernatorial Race

Pollster Scott Rasmussen released a new poll on the 2010 race of 500 likely voters on Monday.

1. How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as President… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

40% Strongly approve
23% Somewhat approve
12% Somewhat disapprove
24% Strongly disapprove
2% Not sure

2. How would you rate the job Deval Patrick has been doing as Governor… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

11% Strongly approve
31% Somewhat approve
25% Somewhat disapprove
32% Strongly disapprove
1% Not sure

3. In thinking about the 2010 Election for Massachusetts Governor suppose you had a choice between Republican Christy Mihos and Democrat Deval Patrick? If the election were held today would you vote for Republican Christy Mihos or Democrat Deval Patrick?

41% Mihos
40% Patrick
10% Some other candidate
9% Not sure

4. Okay suppose the Republicans nominated Charlie Baker. If the 2010 Election for Massachusetts Governor were held today would you vote for Republican Charlie Baker or Democrat Deval Patrick?
36% Baker
41% Patrick
12% Some other candidate
11% Not sure

5. Favorable Ratings for Candidates in 2010 Governor’s Race


17% Very Favorable
31% Somewhat Favorable
27% Somewhat Unfavorable
24% Very Unfavorable
1% Not Sure


8% Very Favorable
38% Somewhat Favorable
26% Somewhat Unfavorable
9% Very Unfavorable
19% Not Sure


10% Very Favorable
27% Somewhat Favorable
19% Somewhat Unfavorable
8% Very Unfavorable
35% Not Sure

In short, Governor Patrick continues to have high overall disapproval ratings with 51% overall disapproval. Much of the strength in the hypothetical races shown by Mihos and Baker is indeed disappointment with Patrick and the overall bad news coming from Beacon Hill. However, I would caution Republicans in interpreting this early poll with support for their nominee. Patrick has vulnerabilities, but so do Mihos and Baker. I don't think that Baker's name recognition is as high as this survey shows and he will need to announce fairly soon in order to promote his candidacy (Mihos announced several weeks ago).

Again this is an early poll and Republicans ought to be encouraged. Polls taken after Labor Day will be more meaningful as the media will devote more coverage to the race and the public will pay more attention the closer we get to the September 2010 primaries - which may see a knockdown fight on the Republican side (get the beer and chips). As of now Patrick does not have a challenger in his own party, but if his woes continue Cahill or persons unknown may try to knock him off (get more beer and chips) in the Democratic primary.

And there is always the possibility that the President calls Patrick to DC for an important job on the Potomac...if this happens fasten your seatbelts and prepare for turbulence!