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AP Projects Patrick Winner

Deval Patrick propelled himself to victory Tuesday with support from the moderates who kept Republicans in the governor's office for the past 16 years, according to an Associated Press survey.

Patrick did well among Catholics, labor, low-income people, and women. The Democrat also had strong support from voters in cities and in western Massachusetts. That left little for Republican Kerry Healey, who was backed by conservatives and some white Protestants.

About half of voters surveyed identified themselves as moderates, and they backed Patrick by about a 2-to-1 margin. Patrick also had the majority of voters who consider themselves independent.

"I've liked his persona throughout the campaign," Lindsey Peterson, 25, said as she left a polling place in Somerville's Davis Square.

The survey information is according to the poll of 651 Massachusetts voters conducted for AP and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 6 percentage points, higher for subgroups.

Women supported Patrick by a strong majority, rejecting an opportunity to choose the state's first elected female governor.

"Just because she's a woman it's not going to change the way I vote," Peterson said. "It has to be a critical mass."

Voters identifying themselves as conservatives supported Healey, the lieutenant governor, at a ratio of about 2-to-1. But only about two in 10 voters said they were conservatives. Republicans overwhelmingly supported Healey but they are only about one in five voters.

Healey's other strong group was white Protestants, which she roughly split with Patrick.

Patrick had comfortable majorities in all age and income categories, with his biggest margin among those whose family income is less than $50,000.

"He wants people to have jobs, affordable housing, more police on the streets," said Eleanor McCarthy, an affordable housing activist who voted in Boston's North End.

McCarthy is a registered Democrat who said she last voted for a Republican in the 1980s. "Maybe Reagan," she said.

An overwhelming majority of Massachusetts voters are white and nearly half of them are Catholics, who supported Patrick by a 2-to-1 ratio. Nonwhite religious voters overwhelmingly supported Patrick, a black Presbyterian. About nine in 10 black voters supported Patrick.

Massachusetts voters surveyed affirmed their "blue state" status. About two-thirds of voters surveyed said they disapprove of the war in Iraq and disapprove of the way President Bush is handling his job.

About 60 percent of Bay State voters surveyed during the 2004 presidential election said they disapproved of Bush's job performance, and an identical percentage disapproved of the decision to go to war.

Republicans have been able to hold the governor's office on the strength of independent and political moderates. Republican Paul Cellucci, for example, defeated Democrat Scott Harshbarger in 1998 with 53 percent of the moderates, and 53 percent of independents.

William Weld won re-election in 1994 with 77 percent of the independent vote, and half of the moderate vote. Weld first won in 1990. Gov. Mitt Romney was elected in 2002 but decided not to seek re-election as he ponders a run for president.

Zachary Howard, a 27-year-old Somerville resident, said he read campaign materials on the Web sites of Patrick and Healey, and followed news reports during the campaign. He voted for Patrick.

"He has a real plan for turning the economy around, making more jobs in the state, and also keeping graduates from the university system in the state, which is a unique approach," Howard said. "He seemed very straightforward. I looked at her in an objective manner. Certainly her reputation is colored by Romney, who I was never a big fan of. I tried to give her a fair shake."

By KEN MAGUIRE
Associated Press WriterCopyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

This program aired on November 7, 2006. The audio for this program is not available.

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