Sunday, May 30, 2010

Govs. race - Stuck in the middle with Charlie...

The Prof returns after a busy semester of scaring students and himself in the process...

The Massachusetts Governor's race continues. As we are now well into 2010 with a bit more than five months to the election, let's reassess.

Governor Patrick has climbed out of the basement to the third step up the cellar stairs. The two most recent polls (Rasmussen and Suffolk) show him climbing from the low 30s to the low 40s. He reelect figures remain under 50% which typically is death for an incumbent, but since this continues to be a three-way race, 40% is probably enough to win. He is not particularly well-liked by the broad electorate, but the political left - a potent force in the Bay State remains loyal to him and gives him a floor of around 35%. Peel off some Democratic-leaning independents and he is bumped into the low 40s. Patrick is not running a particularly good campaign, but has benefited from positive media exposure during the floods and water main break in April. Can his support slip again - absolutely and although he is in the best position of the three candidates now; by no means should he think he can cruise.

Republican Charlie Baker remains "stuck in the middle" and is currently polling in the low 30s. One constant thorn for Baker is the continuing presence of Tim Cahill siphoning potential support from the "anybody but Patrick" voters in November.

The Prof (beware of people who refer to themselves in the third person!) thinks that Baker has been running too much of a "nice guy" campaign and unfortunately being a nice guy does not usually win in the rough and tumble of Massachusetts politics. Fire in the belly and hitting back at Lt. Governor Murray's potshots may do him good. He needs to show more passion, which I am just not seeing in his interviews...maybe this will manifest in time. On the plus side, he is still the most viable alternative to Patrick and certainly can pull this out, but he needs to shake up this race.

Tim Cahill's support has plummeted from the mid 20s down to about 14% over the past couple of months. His door (and fundraising potential) seems to be rapidly closing. The flurry of negative ads from the Republican Governor's Association has probably contributed to this. Like Baker, he needs to do something major to try to shake up the race or he will continue to float down to a floor of around 10% - a 10% that Baker desperately needs.

As of today, Patrick remains a slight favorite to win reelection. I believe I pegged his re-election chances at 55% last fall and would up that to 60% based on what I have seen over the past few months.

It is still quite early and typically the public won't really focus on the race until after Labor Day. There will be millions of dollars spent on both sides on campaign advertising - by November most people will be truly sick of the saturation advertising.

I expect that Cahill is unlikely to make any sort of real recovery (it is rare for Independent candidates to gain traction over the long term) and that this will be a Patrick vs. Baker race. This is where the 10-15% who continue to support Cahill will really matter. As most of them would probably support Baker, I would not be surprised to see Baker try to cut some sort of deal from Cahill to drop out. Stay tuned...

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