Baker Holds Commanding Lead Over Gonzalez In WBUR Poll

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Gov. Charlie Baker addresses the Massachusetts Republican Convention at the DCU Center in Worcester. (Winslow Townson/AP)
Gov. Charlie Baker addresses the Massachusetts Republican Convention at the DCU Center in Worcester. (Winslow Townson/AP)

With less than six weeks to go before Massachusetts voters decide whether to give Charlie Baker a second term as governor, the Republican continues to have high favorable ratings in this otherwise solid blue state.

The latest WBUR poll (topline results, crosstabs), conducted just last week, shows voters are inclined to give Baker four more years on Beacon Hill, and that to win, Democrat Jay Gonzalez has to make up a lot of ground between now and Nov. 6.

If the election were held today, Baker would easily cruise to victory with 68 percent of the vote, to Gonzalez's 24 percent. Just 6 percent of likely voters polled remain undecided.

One of Gonzalez's biggest challenges: boosting his visibility.

"Jay Gonzalez is doing better with name recognition but it's still surprising to see how many people don't know who he is, given that he's now the major party nominee for governor," said MassINC Polling Group's Steve Koczela, who conducted the survey for WBUR.

Forty-five percent of those asked in the WBUR poll say they had never heard of Gonzalez. More than a third of the Democrats surveyed — 37 percent — claimed they hadn't heard of Gonzalez either. The Needham Democrat just hasn't had the money to buy ads.

Conversely, Baker's multimillion-dollar campaign war chest has his ads running on everything from televised Red Sox games to YouTube videos.

Koczela says to have a shot in this race, Gonzalez must shore up support among registered Democrats.

"The polls that have been out in the last couple of weeks show him either even, or trailing with registered members of the Democratic Party," said Koczela. "And that's the group that, you know, for Democrats that have won in recent years, it's been 75 or 80 percent of registered Democrats have gone for them."

The WBUR poll finds that of the Democrats surveyed, only 36 percent said they'd vote for Gonzalez if the election were held today. Baker would get the vote of 55 percent of the Democrats — many of whom say Baker is doing an adequate job as the state's chief executive.

Baker also leads Gonzalez among unenrolled voters, 71 to 21 percent.

As a matter of fact, Baker leads Gonzalez by double digits in every single category of voter, when broken down by age, gender, race, income, level of education and by region.

While the numbers look bleak for Gonzalez now, Koczela predicts he will see them improve between now and Election Day.

"There are some who will pull that lever for the candidate from their party no matter what," he said. "That's something we see in almost every election. There's some response to the partisan queue of, 'This person is a Democrat, I'm a Democrat, so that's why I'm going to vote for [him].' "

Koczela cautions the poll is a snapshot of where the race stands now, and points to the recent upset in the 7th Congressional District as an example of how a candidate can come from behind.

"As we saw with Ayanna Pressley, a lot can happen in a month," Koczela said. "You know, people can tune in and learn who a candidate is, become fired up, and things can really change between a poll that's taken five or six weeks out and when Election Day takes place."

The WBUR poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

This segment aired on September 26, 2018.

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Steve Brown Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.



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