Saturday, September 26, 2009

New poll on the Governor's race

Suffolk University released a new poll of 500 registered voters regarding the 2010 gubernatorial race this week. The news continues to be bad for Deval Patrick in terms of favorability, but the three-way race keeps him in front.

Favorability for Governor Patrick - 42% favorable; 54% unfavorable

Does Governor Patrick deserve another term - 29% yes; 56% no

Hypothetical match-up:
Patrick 36%
Cahill 23%
Baker 14%
Undecided 26%

Baker's low support is mainly due to the nearly 50% of the sample who don't know enough of him to form an opinion. His numbers should rise as the campaign progresses. However the following "gut feeling" question does not bode well for Baker.

Would the state would be better off with a Republican governor?
Yes 39%
No 54%

This indicates the continuing deep blue bias in Massachusetts as the Republican Party continues to be viewed unfavorably by many residents of the state. Baker has an uphill climb, even with Patrick being viewed so poorly.

The surprise here is the continuing strength of Democrat turned Independent Tim Cahill. Regardless of who voters indicated as their first choice, a strong majority chose Cahill as a second choice. Cahill voters would choose Baker as their backup. This hurts Baker who really needs a two way race. It is not inconceivable that the is becomes a Cahill vs. Patrick race as the anti-Patrick vote may end up with who is perceived to be the strongest horse.

There is a block of loyal Patrick supporters composing between 35 and 40 percent of voters. In a conventional two-way race (undecideds usually break to the challenger) it would be bad news. However, in this three-way race it may be all he needs to win a second term. I maintain my prediction that he has a 55% chance of winning another term in November 2010. I also think that unless Baker can start stepping up his campaign that many independent voters may really consider supporting Cahill. This will be much clearer as time progresses, but Baker needs to find a message that can out-compete Cahill as the alternative to the second Patrick administration.


The Prof

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Curiouser and Curiouser

OK- lots happening....

Let's see, looks like the state legislature is going to grant the Governor the power to appoint a "temporary" replacement for the open MA senate seat. This should be wrapped up in a few days. Can you say Senator Michael Dukakis...

With Lynch taking a pass on the race (my guess is that his own internal polling showed few paths to victory), a new face enters the race. Venture capitalist and part owner of the Boston Celtics Stephen Pagliuca is launching a bid for the seat. He describes himself as a progressive Democrat and has enough money to buy quick name recognition. However, I still really think Martha Coakley will take this race. Yes I know its early - but I give her a 65% chance of winning the primary and the election.

Pagliuca's entrance may hurt Mike Capuano somewhat as he really needs a one on one race to increase his low name recognition (see new poll below). A three way race benefits Coakley because she has a large portion of the electorate in her corner due to her high name recognition. She also has a 53% favorability rating in the latest Suffolk University poll. Contrast this with Capuano having a 16% favorability rating and 33% having never heard of him. He has work to do. Barney Frank's endorsement and his announcement yesterday has him entering as the darling of liberal wing of the party. This is a smart strategy as liberal activists (and in Massachusetts there are lots of them in vote-rich areas) will be the most actuated to show up on December 8.

It is too early to estimate Pagliuca's impact on the race. My initial guess is that although he has a lot of money a race like this will be very tough for him. The major groups especially labor are already lining up behind Coakley and they can deliver votes. If he ran as an independent in the general election, it could make things more interesting. However, if either of the other two candidates make any serious mistakes, voters may give Pagliuca another look.

With the primary is less than three months away this is how the early race is shaping up through the recent Suffolk University poll:

Coakley - 47%

Capuano - 9%

Undecided 33%

Suffolk polling on the General Election in January also shows Coakley in the catbird seat against likely Republican candidate Scott Brown.

Coakley - 54%

Brown - 24%

Undecided - 20%

Scott Brown (who I am planning to support) has maybe a 5% chance of pulling a spectacular upset. Massachusetts truly is the bluest state and the R next to his name alienates nearly half of the voters immediately. I think it won't be 30 point blowout and he will do better against a Capuano, but he is in this race to increase his name recognition in my opinion. Look for him to run for another statewide office in the future.


The Prof

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First poll on special Senate election

Rasmussen has released the first poll on the upcoming Senate race.

These numbers are very early and really gauge basic name recognition as the real campaign has yet to start. Martha Coakley's statewide name recognition is serving her very well. Moreover, her overall favorability is at 67%. If she does not stumble, she is going to be the one to beat. This also means that she will have a target on her back and will be the subject of political broadside hurled by opponents.

Since this poll was run, Marty Meehan has taken himself out of the race. I think it is unlikely that John Tierney and Ed Markey run. We should know the final field within a week as jumping in late has no real benefit with such a short campaign. But if I had to predict today, I think the field is Coakley, Capuano, and Lynch with Coakley looking very formidable - at least at this early point. However, if another liberal candidate jumps into the race, Lynch should benefit as the sole moderate candidate.

On the Republican side, State Senator Scott Brown had a scare with Christy Mihos apparently weighing a jump to this race for about an hour (nice publicity for Mihos' gubernatorial run, I think that was the intent all along). Former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card is said to be seriously considering a run at this point as well. A Republican primary battle hurts Lynch as Republican-leaning independents will be less likely to jump to the Democratic primary where (presumably) Lynch would benefit.

Expect many more posts on this race over the next several weeks. The Prof is in the zone!


The Prof

Monday, September 7, 2009

Handicapping the Senate race...

With the now-open US Senate seat scheduled to be filled by a special election on January 19, it is time to try some early handicapping of what will be a crowded field...primary elections for the parties are scheduled for December 8 - three short months away!

The early odds for each candidate that I am posting assume that Joe Kennedy is not in the race...if he is they will be reworked in my next posting. Update: I stand by the odds I published - for now!

One thing to bear in mind is that special elections have historically low turnout and candidates with excellent fundraising ability and GOTV (get out the vote) operations will fare well.


Breaking News - Kennedy not running!

Of course this news breaks a few hours after I post this... I need to find a Matt Drudge style siren for breaking news!

Joe Kennedy:
If he throws his hat into the ring he will benefit through instant name recognition and Kennedy nostalgia. He has experience as a former Congressman and would be able to raise a large amount of money in a short time. My instinct tells me that he would be the odds on favorite, but would not be a lock for the nomination. If he does run, he will have a smaller field to run against however, as his presence would make some potential candidates think twice about running. I see the race between him and Martha Coakley
Odds: (if he runs) 60% of winning the nomination
Odds of running: less than even, lets say 60-40 he does not get into the race
(I was right!!)

Attorney General Martha Coakley:
The sitting State Attorney General has already formerly declared for the seat and has made it no secret that her ambition has been the US Senate for some time. She has the experience of having run and won a statewide election and will be able to raise money from liberal advocacy and women's groups. Although technocratic in approach and temperament, nevertheless I think she will be a formidable force in this race. She has had a meteoric political rise and if Joe K. decides not to run, she has the best shot at winning with a crowded primary field. This primary is one where organization and political savvy will benefit her greatly. Remember, winning 35% of the vote in a crowded race wins you the nomination...
Odds: 55% shot at winning the nomination

Congressman Steven Lynch:
Steve Lynch has filed papers to run and will be in this race regardless of what Joe K. does. He is the most conservative Massachusetts member of Congress and can potentially do well among blue collar voters and Republican-leaning independents (more on this in a minute). He has a substantial financial war chest that he can put to use for this race. However, he is on the conservative side of the Democratic Party and I think he will have trouble beating a more liberal opponent - unless several liberal candidates run and split the vote.
Odds: 30%

Congressman Michael Capuano:
This liberal Congressman from Tip O'Neil's old 8th District seat has the ability to raise money and is a fiery and passionate liberal on the issues which will help him in a primary battle. His problem is lack of name recognition outside his district and a primary race with at least two other liberal candidates. He could catch fire though if Coakley stumbles.
Odds: 20%

Congressman Ed Markey:
The long-term Congressman from Malden is said to be eyeing a run (if Joe does not of course). I think he has the same issues the Capuano has - a crowded field with ideologically similar candidates. Also, he does not have the personal charisma of a Capuano.
Odds: 10%

UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan:
Marty retired from Congress in 2007 and has a few million dollars sitting in his campaign account that he may put to use. Opportunities like this arise rarely and he is seriously considering this race. He is a moderate Democrat and does have significant name recognition. However, he is not well-liked by many party activists and did retire from a safe seat in The House. I think he will pull the trigger on this race though and may surprise with a decent showing as he is well regarded in the Merrimack Valley.
Odds: 20%

I don't think Congressman Barney Frank will run as he he a plum House Committee Chairmanship where he wields more power than he would as a junior senator. If he does surprise us and run, I think he may have the chance at pulling an upset as he is very politically gifted ands would be the liberal darling in this race.


I am not going to spend too much time here as there is virtually no chance for a Republican to win this seat in heavily Democratic Massachusetts. Raising money and frankly finding credible candidates continue to be the bane of the Massachusetts GOP.

Former Lt. Governor Kerry Healy took herself out of the running over the weekend. State Senator Scott Brown and former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card are said to be eyeing runs. Registered Independent Curt Schilling may have to run as an independent candidate if he does get into the race (I don't think he will, by the way) as state election laws require him to be registered in a major party in order to run for a party nomination.

However, I am about 95% certain that the winner of the Democratic primary will be the elected Senator with at least 60% of the overall vote come January.

Oh yes...almost forgot! The role of independents who can vote in party primaries may help a candidate like Lynch as we can safely assume that turnout for the Republican primary will be very low and that most independents will go into the Democratic primary. (Full disclosure, I plan to pull the lever for Lynch in the primary as I am a conservative-leaning independent) Again turnout is key and that hinges on a candidate's ability to organize and raise raise money during a very short campaign season. This is promising to be an exciting fall...


The Prof