Gov. Charlie Baker maintains sky-high popularity as he nears the end of his first year in office, according to a Suffolk University poll of Massachusetts voters.
The Republican governor enjoys a 70 percent favorable rating and a 15 percent unfavorable rating, just slightly below where he stood at 100 days, when an April survey pegged him at 74 percent favorable – 8 percent unfavorable. His job approval rating in the November poll also topped 70 percent, as it did in April.
“These are amazing numbers considering that registered Republicans make up only 11 percent of the state’s voters, yet he easily tops some of the state’s leading political figures, including both Democratic U.S. senators,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.
The following ratings, each considered impressive in their own right, offer a basis of comparison:
- U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 54 percent favorable – 34 percent unfavorable
- U.S. Sen. Edward Markey: 47 percent favorable – 28 percent unfavorable
- Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh: 54 percent favorable – 15 percent unfavorable
- Attorney General Maura Healey: 43 percent favorable – 14 percent unfavorable.
Despite some controversial components of Baker’s opioid bill, voters are supporting the governor’s approach to curtailing the Massachusetts opioid crisis. Fifty-four percent of voters supported limiting first-time opioid prescriptions to a three-day supply, while 30 percent opposed the measure. And 65 percent agreed with Baker’s proposal that hospitals could hold patients suffering from substance abuse for up to three days against their will.
“Nearly two-thirds of voters are saying that hospitals need to lend a helping hand to families who are experiencing pain, guilt and lack of direction about what is right and best for the patient,” said Paleologos. “Baker’s decision to include this component certainly risked opposition from civil libertarians, but he has majority support on both of these strategies.”
Baker was among the majority of U.S. governors when he declared that he does not want to accept Syrian refugees in the wake of the recent terrorist attack in Paris. A small plurality of those polled, 47 percent, but not a majority, agreed with the position of these governors, but 40 percent disagreed, and 13 percent were undecided. However, when considering two possibilities about the approach Massachusetts should take, 51 percent of voters said that Syrian refugees who have been properly vetted by the federal government should be allowed to resettle in the commonwealth. Slightly over 40 percent opted for a statement saying that Massachusetts should not accept Syrian refugees because doing so risks allowing a terrorist to slip through.
Record of polling success
In the 2014 governor’s race, the final Suffolk University poll predicted that Baker would defeat Democrat Martha Coakley by 3 points. Baker won by 2 points. The final Suffolk poll in the 2013 special U.S. Senate election predicted that Democrat Markey would defeat Republican Gabriel Gomez by 10 points. Markey won by 10 points. The final Suffolk poll in the 2012 election for U.S. Senate predicted that Democrat Warren would defeat Republican Scott Brown by 7 points. She won by 7.5 points. The final Suffolk poll in the 2010 race for governor predicted that Democrat Deval Patrick would defeat Baker by 7 points. Patrick won by 6 points.
The statewide Suffolk University survey was conducted through live interviews of land line and cell phone users. All respondents indicated that they were registered to vote in Massachusetts and the survey of 500 voters was conducted Thursday, Nov. 19, through Sunday, Nov. 22. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, firstname.lastname@example.org.