Republican Charlie Baker has begun his tenure as governor with high popularity and favorable ratings for job performance, according to a Suffolk University poll of Massachusetts voters taken April 16 to April 21.
Baker had a 74 percent favorable rating, while 8 percent of voters viewed him unfavorably. More than 70 percent approved of the job he is doing as governor; 6 percent disapproved.
“Charlie Baker has had a near-perfect 100-day start with very few early mistakes,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “During that time record-breaking snowfall has been converted to record-breaking poll numbers as Baker’s leadership during the crisis has voters of all parties giving him high marks. Unless he keeps up this amazing pace, probability says that from this point on his numbers can only go in one direction and will settle down at some point.”
In comparison, Deval Patrick had a favorable rating of 53 percent and a job approval of 42 percent, according to a 100-day Suffolk University/7NEWS poll released in April 2007, which followed controversy over his office decoration and car lease spending.
Forty-two percent of voters said that Baker is a better governor than Patrick, while 24 percent preferred Patrick. Patrick was seen as a better governor than Mitt Romney by 45 percent of voters in 2007.
MBTA takes heat
While Baker weathered this winter’s record snow well, the MBTA was battered yet again in the poll, with 73 percent of voters rating the agency as fair or poor and 12 percent saying it is excellent or good.
“The snow has since melted, but the hard feelings toward the MBTA remain,” said Paleologos. “Right now people aren’t blaming Baker for the problems at the transportation agency, but if the problems aren’t solved, the troubles at the T will be his cross to bear.”
Olympics and public funding
Forty-three percent of voters support a Boston bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and 46 percent oppose. Voter support hinges on whether public money would support the operation of the games, with 56 percent supporting the bid if no public funding were involved. Seventy-eight percent of voters said there should be a ballot question to gauge support for the Olympics bid.
Life imprisonment favored in marathon trial
With the Marathon bombing trial in the penalty phase, 58 percent of voters said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should receive life imprisonment without the possibility of release, while 33 percent said the death penalty is the appropriate punishment. However, when respondents were presented with a scenario where they would cast the deciding vote for the death penalty, 47 percent said they could do so, while 45 percent said they could not.
Last week, the Richard family publicly urged a life sentence without parole to avoid a string of death penalty appeals that would force them to repeatedly revisit the tragic event that took their young son from them.
In a sobering vision of change between generations, 74 percent said they live better than their parents did; however 46 percent said that the next generation will live better, while 42 percent disagreed.
Record of polling success
In the 2014 governor’s race, the final Suffolk University poll predicted that Baker would defeat Democrat Martha Coakley by 3 points. Baker won by 2. The final Suffolk poll in the 2013 special U.S. Senate election predicted that Democrat Ed Markey would defeat Republican Gabriel Gomez by 10 points. Markey won by 10. The final Suffolk poll in the 2012 election for U.S. Senate predicted that Democrat Elizabeth Warren would defeat Republican Scott Brown by 7 points. She won by 7.5. The final Suffolk poll in the 2010 race for governor predicted that Democrat Deval Patrick would defeat Republican Charlie Baker by 7 points. Patrick won by 6.
The statewide Suffolk University survey was conducted through live interviews of land line and cell phone users. All respondents indicated that they were registered to vote in Massachusetts and the survey of 500 voters was conducted Thursday, April 16, through Tuesday, April 21. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, firstname.lastname@example.org.