Age, Sex and Race Playing a Significant Role

The race is tightening. In the latest Rasmussen Poll, Patrick who last polled at 45% has seen support drop to 41%. He is still seeing benefits from good economic news. Before recent reports of an economic turn around Patrick was polling in the low 30’s.

Baker continues to rise. As the number of voters with no opinion of Baker shrinks he is seeing his poll numbers rise as expected. Probably not as quickly as he needs to, but the differential between Patrick and Baker is narrowing.

Cahill who was polling well above 25%, is again showing extremely low support, and high unfavorability. He is at least holding level for now. 14% from one poll to 16% in another is within the noise and tells us nothing about whether he’s gaining – or continuing to drop. As we get closer to the election and it looks like Cahill doesn’t have a chance of actually winning, these voters are likely to break for Baker more than Patrick.

One significantly missing piece of data is that Rasmussen’s tracking poll doesn’t include Jill Stein. In the most recent WNEC poll, Stein was polling at a very significant 8%. It’s difficult for Rasmussen to include her now without damaging the validity of his tracking. But without including her, it’s hard to judge how many progressives ultimately will go with Stein or Patrick.

For Patrick the drop from 45% to 41% is probably significant. And I think Baker’s rise is probably true as well – as it’s a continuation of a rising trend.

The key number in this poll – like all the other recent Governor’s race polls is how many people are undecided about Baker. Patrick and Cahill now have almost no people undecided about them. Their movement is going to be more limited.

Baker still has 20% undecideds to mine so it’s likely that his rising trend will continue over the coming weeks. By end of July I think Baker will be well known to voters and then the competitive landscape will even out with all candidates having to convert people who are already decided on another candidate.

If there is no significant positive or negative news on Patrick and Baker, I expect that by late July they will be about even, just from the trend of people getting to know Baker better.

  • Biggest risk for Patrick: economic news reverses itself.
  • Biggest risk for Cahill: continuing bad news about his insider ties keep him down, lack of money hurts his ability to get his message out.
  • Biggest risk for Baker: that he fails to convert a significant portion of the 20% undecided block to his column. he needs to end July about even with Patrick or its an uphill battle for him.

Demographics Playing a Very Key Role

Age

Among working age voters 18-49, Baker leads significantly ( Baker 42%, Patrick 39%, Cahill 16% ). Patrick is making up the differential in older voters ( 65+ going with Patrick by 51%)

One thing that could be going on here is that older voters may be more swayed by good economic news because they aren’t directly affected by the very poor job market. Working age voters are probably not seeing good jobs news on the ground.

You see this also in the Governor’s favorability ratings by age. Only 2% of voters 18-39 see Patrick’s performance as governor favorably. ( Really – I did a double take when I saw that ). For voters 65+, 24% see Patrick favorably. The good news for Patrick is that older voters are more likely to turn out on election day. The bad news of course is that its younger voters who turn out volunteer for campaigns.

Patrick really needs to get a jobs program for recent college grads going this summer if he wants to get campaign volunteers.

Gender

Baker is leading among men ( Baker 37%, Patrick 36%, Cahill 19% ). Patrick among women ( Baker 31%, Patrick 46%, Cahill 13% ). Given Patrick’s extremely low approval among young voters, this preference by women must be coming disproportionately from women 50 or older. That’s looking like a key demographic for him, and an opportunity for Baker if he can get a more finely focused message to them.

Race

Not surprisingly Patrick leads among black voters ( Baker 16%, Patrick 72%, Cahill 13% ). He leads more narrowly among white voters ( Baker 34%, Patrick 41%, Cahill 15% ).

What is really surprising here is that among voters who identify as “other” ( presumably Hispanic and Asian voters ) Baker leads by a very wide margin ( Baker 46%, Patrick 20%, Cahill 27% ). Patrick is so unpopular in this demographic that even Cahill is beating him. (Someone call the RGA and tell them to run their ads in Spanish!)

More surprising still is that Baker supports the bill to limit services to illegal immigrants and Patrick doesn’t.

What People Are Saying

The spin from various camps is predictable. Doug Rubin, Patrick’s former Chief of Staff and campaign manager tries to put the poll in the best light possible, calling out that Patrick is leading, and that Baker has been unable to close the gap:

As you can see, Governor Patrick’s lead has been as low as 3% and as high as 14% in the poll, and I assume it will continue to move around due to the methodology of the poll, but it has remained roughly the same as it was in November 2009.

The Rasmussen data also shows a significant increase in Governor Patrick’s favorability ratings since last year, spurred in part by the positive economic news of the past few months.  April showed the largest monthly job gain in 17 years, and MA has created over 44,000 new jobs in the last four months.  In addition, business confidence has grown 13 out of the last 15 months, and numerous independent studies have shown that MA is recovering faster and stronger than the rest of the country.

Overall, this latest Rasmussen poll is good news for the Patrick campaign.  We have weathered a significant negative TV blitz, forced the Baker campaign to spend hundreds of thousands on TV ads early, and maintained a solid lead in the polls.  We still have a lot of work to do, but our grassroots organization is growing exponentially, and Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray are delivering every day for the people of Massachusetts.

Jon Keller sees this poll as we do, very unfavorable to Patrick:

These numbers can and will be spun every which way, and to some extent early polling often reflects little more than name recognition. But Patrick cannot be pleased at continuing to struggle to get into the low 40s, especially after several months of positive free-media exposure, marginally improved economic news, and underwhelming performances by his opponents.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – elections featuring incumbents are usually a referendum on those incumbents, and Deval Patrick is one of the least-popular incumbents I’ve seen in more than three decades of covering Massachusetts politics.

Republican activist Paul Ferro sees it as bad for Patrick as well:

As I’ve said all along, this race is between Deval and Not Deval.  Deval is at 40%+/- Not Deval is at 60%+/-.  Not Deval wins.  With Cahill stagnant at 15% (I’m averaging) it’s really going to be whether people will want Deval or Baker.

I think Deval is pretty much stuck at 40%, and won’t move very much.  Stein will draw off 2-3% from the left.  When push comes to shove, Cahill’s 15% will drop to between 7-10%, and those votes will go to Baker (Main Not Deval) as the vast majority of undecideds, as they tend to do, break to the Challenger.

Final score?  Right now, I’d say 47% Baker, 10% Cahill, 3% Stien, 40% Deval.

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