Surprise coming in MA gubernatorial race?

posted at 10:01 am on August 29, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

After this week’s dreary news out of Kansas, we owe Hot Air readers a pleasant surprise, and this may be it. Martha Coakley, who lost a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy four years ago despite the near-total grip Democrats have on Massachusetts, may be in the process of losing another election. Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker took his first lead in the Boston Globe poll series, edging Coakley barely, while neither candidate looks to be catching fire:

Republican Charlie Baker has edged ahead of Democrat Martha Coakley in the race for governor, taking the lead by the slimmest of margins for the first time in the Globe’s weekly poll.

The survey found the hypothetical general election race in a statistical dead heat, with 38 percent of respondents saying they would support Baker for governor, a slight edge over the 37 percent who said they favor Coakley. Though Baker’s lead remains well within the margin of error, it shows movement in a race between the two likeliest candidates for the November election.

Coakley still faces two Democratic rivals in the Sept. 9 party primary, but the poll found she maintains a solid lead, claiming the support of 46 percent of likely voters. Comparatively, 24 percent support Steve Grossman, the state treasurer, and 10 percent back health care expert Donald Berwick.

That’s a rather significant shift, although not a significant lead for Baker. Last month, Coakley had a double-digit lead, and in two polls earlier his month was up by seven. Baker has become more aggressive of late in advertising, and Coakley is still dealing with primary challengers, but just as in the 2010 special election, she seems to fade the more voters get to see her campaign.

Readers may remember Berwick as the man who adores the British health-care system whom Barack Obama put in charge of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement ObamaCare. Obama didn’t even give the Senate a chance to vote on his appointment, even though Democrats had the majority; he used a recess appointment in a manner which the courts now say would be illegal. Berwick stepped down before his recess appointment needed to be confirmed, and decided to run for governor in Massachusetts. His relative position in the race suggests that some people may be too liberal for Bay State voters, which may come as a surprise to some.

What’s even more surprising is the second choice of Grossman’s voters. Almost half of Grossman’s backers (48%) will vote for Baker over Coakley, according to the new poll, while only 28% will commit to voting for Coakley, leaving another 24% either undecided or on the sidelines. Bear in mind that these are Democrats planning to vote in the primary, not a general-population survey. That doesn’t make Grossman a better candidate against Baker, though; the Republican has a slightly better lead against Grossman (37/33) than against Coakley, and Baker blows Berwick out of the water at 44/19 in a hypothetical matchup.

Don’t get too excited at the moment, though. These numbers all look low, and that means a lot of voters are still making up their minds. Plenty can happen over the next two months to change these dynamics, and the end of the primary will no doubt allow for some healing among Democrats, albeit on a very short time line. It’s still worth noting that Coakley’s going the wrong direction late in the game, and we’ve seen that once before, too.


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What they do on a fairly regular basis in Massachusetts is to run a loud independent. There are still way too many embarrassed Democrats who became independents but can’t quite pull the lever for the evil GOP. Stand by for someone calling themselves an Independent to run in Mass and secure another victory for the Dems.

rhombus on August 29, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Blue state Republicans tend to leave a lot to be desired. I’m guessing Baker is no Tea Party guy.

Bitter Clinger on August 29, 2014 at 10:06 AM

A Republican in that part of the country tends to be someone who is not necessarily conservative, just less liberal than Ted Kennedy.

DAT60A3 on August 29, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Guess some people just can’t quit being on the government payroll.

You would think after losing a couple of elections they would take the hint.

Same with Charlie Crist in Fl.

Barred on August 29, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Blue state Republicans tend to leave a lot to be desired.

Bitter Clinger on August 29, 2014 at 10:06 AM

True. But they do bring an “R” to the balance of power and tend to vote like a Republican on some issues. Coakley’s lock step support of the Dems is a known quantity.

Happy Nomad on August 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Off to Holiday! To the entire HA gang. Get out and enjoy the Holiday! The fall is shaping up to be extremely challenging and busy. Best to take advantage of the R&R now if you can. Have a lovely time all!

Bmore on August 29, 2014 at 10:18 AM

What they do on a fairly regular basis in Massachusetts is to run a loud independent. There are still way too many embarrassed Democrats who became independents but can’t quite pull the lever for the evil GOP. Stand by for someone calling themselves an Independent to run in Mass and secure another victory for the Dems.

rhombus on August 29, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Already have two. McCormick (who is supposedly independent but as far as I can remember has given more $$$ to the DNC than some Democrats have) and Falchuk who is part of a radical new left style political party. If there are any splits caused by these candidates, it’s to Bakers benefit if he can frame McCormick as more liberal Democrat than “independent.

There’s also Scott Lively, who is a hardcore pro-family conservative, but Lively is unlikely to get much juice.

Baker also has a Republican primary Sept. 9th against Mark Fisher, who is a Tea Party conservative. The odds don’t favor Fisher, but Baker has already actively campaigned to lose conservative voters, and the Democratic primary will be so tight that more liberal Unenrolled voters are apt to vote in that primary.

BKennedy on August 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Blue state Republicans tend to leave a lot to be desired. I’m guessing Baker is no Tea Party guy.

Bitter Clinger on August 29, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Be serious. Get to New England much?

rhombus on August 29, 2014 at 10:28 AM

I’m not going to get my hopes up based on a slim lead in a single poll.

Syzygy on August 29, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Martha Coakley: Massachusetts’ Alex Sink.

GOPRanknFile on August 29, 2014 at 10:32 AM

BKennedy on August 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Hope you’re right about Independents finally working to Baker’s benefit but I’m still skeptical. I’m not loving Baker but I don’t think Fisher stands much of a chance – whether it’s lack of funding, name recognition or being saddled with the Tea Party label in a land where that’s the kiss of death.

rhombus on August 29, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Bmore on August 29, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Rock on and thanx.

docflash on August 29, 2014 at 10:34 AM

The republican will have to have a significant lead to beat the fascist-democrat voter fraud.

jukin3 on August 29, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Baker was asked the other night in a debate who was his favorite Republican was and he said Jeb Bush…good god!

zeeman on August 29, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Given that RCP averages seems to indicate Obama has about a 40% floor, I am highly skeptical of any polling that shows a (D) under 40% in a blue state unless it is an exceptionally strong (R) or weak (D).

deepdiver on August 29, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Haven’t we established Maatha is a lousy candidate?

formwiz on August 29, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Don’t worry American hating liberals, you are still safe. Everyone knows that a conservative has to have at least a 5 percent greater vote total then a liberal to make up for the fraudulent votes by dead people, purchase votes and double votes.

pwb on August 29, 2014 at 11:31 AM

“Marsha” Coakley is a miserable failure even by leftist standards.

Will she be the 2016 nominee?

ConstantineXI on August 29, 2014 at 11:51 AM

The cow of Louisiana, the scumhag. Go the way of Blanche Lincoln and Lugar.

Schadenfreude on August 29, 2014 at 12:04 PM

These numbers all look low, and that means a lot of voters are still making up their minds.

And unfortunately, Mass. seem to only break one way at election time.

phreshone on August 29, 2014 at 12:32 PM

I don’t know if Ed is snarking, but this doesn’t compare to the KS Senate race, since that is a national race and this one isn’t.

22044 on August 29, 2014 at 12:56 PM

I live in mass.the if you look at our history we elect republican governors quite often. however our state is still really run by the democratic legislature.

gerrym51 on August 29, 2014 at 1:10 PM

I guess the progressives in Massachusetts must have too many of those little illegal kids getting in their way.

cajunpatriot on August 29, 2014 at 1:23 PM

After Kansas…. this is supposed to make me feel better, how?

locomotivebreath1901 on August 29, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Apparently Duval has fallen short of drunken Latinos and members of the Obama family eligible to vote illegally in the Commonwealth. Could all those illegal middle-aged men registering as childrento sit in with the high school girls have something to do with that?

Hening on August 29, 2014 at 1:31 PM

In Massachusetts, just like in the Peoples Republik of NJ the, words republican and conservative means something completely different than what it means in the real world. In the Peoples Republik, Chris Christie is called a conservative republican. And as embarrassing as he is, at least he isn’t a progressive *gay American*, so he’s the closest thing to a republican we can expect in this insane, liberal utopia. Expect the same in Massachusetts.

AppraisHer on August 29, 2014 at 2:08 PM

I’ve met Charlie Baker and have had a couple of conversations with him. He is no Tea Party guy, per se, and he isn’t the most social conservative dude, either… but as others have already opined, in Massachusetts, you’re not going to get a hard line conservative in the Governor’s office in the current environment. All that said, Baker does have a strong business acumen and a sense of what’s right in terms of tax policy, etc.

As for “no one catching fire,” I can attest that no one is remotely focused on this race right now… we’ve had an incredibly beautiful summer in the Northeast and many folks are busy soaking up the last rays of summer…

dpduq on August 29, 2014 at 8:04 PM