Gov. Charlie Baker's approval rating has tumbled since August, but the Republican would still be the favorite if he decided to run for a third term in 2022, according to a new UMass Amherst/WCVB poll.
The poll conducted by YouGov between March 5 and March 9 to mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic found that 52% of residents approve of the job Baker is doing, compared to 62% for President Joe Biden. That rating for Baker is down from 68% in October and high of 78% in the same poll taken in August.
Meanwhile, Baker would still go into a head-to-head matchup against Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey with a slight lead should he decide to seek another four years in office, according to the poll.
The Republican has not said when he'll make his decision. Baker has consistently been one of the most popular governors in the country over the past six years and led Healey in the survey 31% to 28%, with 34% of the poll registered voters undecided.
"To no one's surprise, Baker's approval ratings have dipped and this is true across all demographic and political groups in the state," said Tatishe Nteta, associate professor of political science at UMass Amherst and director of the poll.
"Controversies over the vaccine rollout, the return to in-person learning, and statewide lockdowns all did real damage to Baker's status as America's most popular governor. However, while he has come under fire for racial disparities in COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths alongside similar racial gaps in vaccinations, a majority of people of color still approve of his job as governor and do so at a higher level than whites."
Baker held larger leads in other hypothetical contests with former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (10 points) and former state Sen. Ben Downing, who entered the race last month and trails Baker 31% to 12% 20 months before the election.
The UMass Amherst/WCVB poll found that Baker has more support among Democrats (61%) and independents (43%) than with members of his own party, who gave him just a 38% approval rating.
Baker's approval rating was only slightly higher than that of the Legislature. Fifty-one percent of residents gave their approval for the job lawmakers are doing on Beacon Hill, while the disapproval rate for the House and Senate held steady from October at 31%.
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