Deval Patrick

Yesterday morning Western New England College released the latest poll in the Governor’s race showing support for the three major Gubernatorial candidates:

  • Deval Patrick: 34%
  • Tim Cahill: 29%
  • Charlie Baker: 27%

This poll was released after the GOP convention, but taken before the  convention. Usually candidates see a rise in poll numbers after their own conventions, so the real support for Baker is probably a little more positive today.

“These numbers reflect a tight race, with Patrick’s opponents splitting the portion of the electorate that is unhappy with the governor,” Polling Institute director Tim Vercellotti said. “These numbers are ominous for an incumbent governor preparing to face the voters in just over six months. Patrick has his work cut out for him.”

The real problem for Patrick is his job approval numbers, just 34% positive and 49% negative, exactly the same as his overall support numbers. Patrick can only climb up from 34% by either improving his job approval number, which is unlikely so late in the term, and with looming budget cuts likely to leave many voters unhappy. Or he has to convince voters who largely disapprove of his performance that he is the lesser of three evils.

Baker is in a much better position – 63% of voters have never heard of , or have no opinion about Baker. Only 13% have an unafavorable view. So all that Baker has to do is to get his name out, and form a positive opinion of himself among these voters.

Cahill is in the middle – 45% have either never heard of him or have no opinion, and 32% of voters have a favorable opinion and 18% unfavorable. So he has a lot of room to grow as well.

By a margin of two to one, 60% to 30%, voters said that the state is on the wrong track as opposed to heading in the right direction. The percentage saying that the state is on the wrong track has increased by 10 percentage points since November 2008, the last time the Polling Institute included the measure in a statewide survey. If the legislature passes local aid cuts, and there are teacher layoffs across the state, this number of likely to get much, much worse.

It will be difficult for Patrick to raise his favorability in time. He’s going to have to try to reach voters who have no opinion on Baker and turn them against him, before Baker can reach them first. I expect this campaign to get increasingly negative very soon.

Having Mihos drop out of the race is a big strategic advantage for Patrick. Instead of Mihos and Baker fighting it out all summer, increasing each other’s negatives, Baker can now focus on Cahill and Patrick.