WBUR Poll: Republican Gov. Baker More Popular Than Democrat Sen. Warren

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A new WBUR poll finds only 44 percent of voters think Sen. Elizabeth Warren "deserves reelection." Forty-six percent think voters ought to "give someone else a chance." (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
A new WBUR poll finds only 44 percent of voters think Sen. Elizabeth Warren "deserves reelection." Forty-six percent think voters ought to "give someone else a chance." (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Over four years in office, Elizabeth Warren has staked her claim as the Senate's liberal lion. And many Massachusetts voters like it — 51 percent view her favorably.

But according to a new WBUR poll, only 44 percent think Warren "deserves reelection." Forty-six percent think voters ought to "give someone else a chance."

"No one's going to look at a 44 percent reelect number and think that that's a good number," said Steve Koczela, president of The MassINC Polling Group, which conducts surveys for WBUR. "No one's going to look at it being close to even between 'reelect' and 'give someone else a chance' and think that that's reassuring.”

The live telephone survey (topline, crosstabs) of 508 voters across Massachusetts was conducted Jan. 15-17. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

Warren’s numbers contrast sharply with those of Gov. Charlie Baker. His favorability rating is 59 percent — 8 points better than Warren. But what’s more striking is that only 29 percent of poll respondents think someone else should get a chance at the governor’s office.

Gov. Charlie Baker (Steven Senne/AP/File)
Gov. Charlie Baker (Steven Senne/AP/File)

How could the state’s top Republican be more popular than its top Democrat? Koczela says it’s about bipartisanship.

"When you look at Elizabeth Warren's favorables, only 12 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of her," Koczela said. "When you look at Baker, 60 percent of Democrats view him favorably. So he has bipartisan appeal, where Elizabeth Warren really never has.”

And Warren’s bare-knuckle tactics don't appear to be softening. That was on display last week at the confirmation hearing of Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Education.

“Do you support protecting federal taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse?" Warren asked.

"Absolutely," DeVos replied.

"Oh good, so do I!" Warren said. "Because we all know that President-elect Trump’s experience with higher education was to create a fake university, which resulted in his paying $25 million to students that he cheated."

The settlement reached in November does not require Trump to acknowledge wrongdoing. The Trump Organization's general counsel, Alan Garten, said in a statement: "While we have no doubt that Trump University would have prevailed at trial based on the merits of this case, resolution of these matters allows President-Elect Trump to devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation."

One of the voters surveyed in our poll was Peter Anderson, of Wilmington. Anderson supports Warren’s work, but he doesn't like incumbent candidates and thinks someone else should have a shot at Warren's seat.

"I don't think that as a group they're doing any sort of a good job," he said. "I think they should all be replaced."

While Baker outperforms Warren with voters, it's not all good news for the governor. The WBUR poll shows Baker’s approval down 10 points from its peak of 69 percent in June.

Baker faces significant voter discontent on several issues, including the cost of housing and health care. More than 60 percent of poll respondents say they're somewhat or very dissatisfied with those issues. People are most upbeat about jobs and the economy, with 57 percent responding that they are somewhat or very satisfied. Forty-seven percent say they're dissatisfied with the state's transportation system.

Craig Cafarelli is an independent who voted for Baker in 2014. The Mendon resident says he’ll do it again in 2018.

“[Baker] seems to be a very pragmatic guy," Cafarelli said. "He’s not looking to score points with certain lobbyists or certain groups. I'm sure there's some of that — there is with every politician — but he seems to be somewhat independent-minded."

One of the Democrats who supports Baker is Binnie Estrada, of Newton. But Estrada says the Republican landslide in November changed something.

"If Hillary had won I'd vote for Baker next time around," she said. "But I don't want to see any Republicans any place. I'm feeling really overwhelmed by what the Republicans are doing.”

Another issue explored in the WBUR poll is the effort to increase taxes for people who earn over $1 million a year. Seventy-seven percent support the so-called millionaire’s tax, while 17 percent oppose.

Kozcela, the pollster, says that could be one of many issues that could affect Baker and Warren.

"What position Charlie Baker decides to take on that question I think could be interesting and important, especially if he and Elizabeth Warren take opposite positions on that question," Koczela said. "That could be a political dynamic worth watching."

Warren has declared she will run again in 2018. So far Baker hasn't announced, though his $4.7 million war chest tops Warren's by half a million dollars.

And the elections are still nearly two years away.

This segment aired on January 23, 2017.


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Simón Rios Reporter
Simón Rios is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.



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