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Entering his last year in office and ahead of his final State of the State address, Gov. Deval Patrick has maintained fairly strong support among Massachusetts voters, despite recent controversies associated with state government, a new WBUR poll shows.
The survey, conducted by The MassINC Polling Group, found 52 percent of respondents have a favorable view of Patrick, while 38 percent have an unfavorable view of the governor.
Additionally, 53 percent of respondents approve of Patrick's job performance, compared with 39 percent who disapprove, according to the telephone survey of 504 registered voters.
The governor's approval rating, though still clearly positive, appears to have diminished somewhat in recent months.
A similar poll from MassINC, conducted in April, had Patrick with a 61 percent favorable/23 percent unfavorable ratio. That survey was conducted a week after the Boston Marathon bombing and the ensuing manhunt, which could have inflated the governor's numbers. (Ninety-one percent agreed with his decision to effectively lock down Greater Boston during the manhunt.) But a survey in October, from the Western New England University Polling Institute, had Patrick with 64 percent approval/26 percent disapproval among registered voters.
For the new WBUR poll, MassINC asked respondents how they think the governor is handling three recent government controversies: the state drug lab crisis, for which a former chemist pleaded guilty to falsifying test results; criticisms of the Department of Children and Families, after a Fitchburg 5-year-old boy under DCF supervision was discovered to be missing; and ongoing problems with the revamped state health insurance website.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents approve of how Patrick is handling these issues, compared with 37 percent who disapprove of his handling.
Of the three controversies, respondents have been paying closest attention to the questions surrounding DCF: 42 percent said they have been following the news "very closely."
The WBUR survey, conducted Jan. 16-19, has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
The numbers on Patrick are part of a larger WBUR poll, with additional questions on the governor's race and casino gambling. The full poll will be released Wednesday morning.
-- Here are the poll's topline results on the Patrick questions (via Scribd):