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Democrat Martha Coakley maintains a stable lead in the five-way race for governor of Massachusetts, beating out Republican Charlie Baker by 10 points, according to the latest WBUR weekly tracking poll.
The 46-36 edge gives the attorney general a larger lead than other recent surveys, such as the latest Boston Globe poll which indicated Coakley held a slimmer 3-point advantage.
"The exact causes of [the difference] are difficult to pinpoint," said Steve Koczela, president of The MassINC Polling Group, which conducted this telephone survey of 502 likely voters for WBUR.
It's worth noting the WBUR poll not only asks respondents whom they would vote for, but if they're undecided they're asked to clarify which gubernatorial candidate they "lean" toward.
As a result, the WBUR poll shows fewer undecided voters in the horse race than other polls — 12 percent.
It also shows solid name recognition for Charlie Baker. Political pundits have long suggested that Baker needed to gain name recognition to bolster his odds of winning in November. The new WBUR poll shows Baker is now nearly universally known -- 96 percent of people polled say they've heard of the Republican candidate, compared to 84 percent at the end of August. Still, his fate in the polls has not yet improved.
"There are some alarm bells that should start to go off, just seeing how his name recognition is up, but it's still not really moving the overall margin," said Koczela.
And, despite recent overtures to women, Baker continues to trail Coakley in that demographic 50-26.
The poll also indicates overwhelming support for early childhood education, a key platform in Coakley's campaign.
Half of those polled (251) were asked whether they would support or oppose a plan to provide comprehensive early childhood education, and 73 percent said they would support it. The other half of respondents were asked whether they would support or oppose raising taxes to provide comprehensive early childhood education, and 53 percent still supported the idea.
"It's gonna be something that [Coakley] talks about cause she knows she's got most public opinion on her side," Koczela said.
Coakley has said she wants to ensure access to early childhood education, particularly in Gateway Cities, eliminating the wait list by expanding a voucher program for low-income families to send their children to preschool.
At a press conference last week, Baker insisted he too supports aspects of early education, but criticized the way "universal pre-K" is defined.
"I'm all for targeted pre-K," Baker said at a press conference to roll out his new jobs plan. "My view on this is -- sure, we should do more, sure, we should shore up the stuff we currently do, but we gotta make sure that the kids who come out of that system are going into elementary school systems where they're going to get the kind of education they need to get the benefit associated with the pre-K in the first place."
The WBUR poll also underlines the failed efforts of the three independent candidates to gain traction. Evan Falchuk is registering at 2 percent, and Jeff McCormick and Scott Lively both only carry 1 percent of support.
The poll was conducted by the MassINC Polling Group from Sept. 16-21. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
General Election Topline Results