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Baker Ahead Of Coakley In Latest WNEU Poll


Republican Charlie Baker holds a slim lead over Democrat Martha Coakley in the race for governor of Massachusetts, according to a survey released this morning by the Western New England University Polling Institute.

       Forty-six percent of likely voters in this final WNEU poll before Election Day say they support Baker, the former health care company executive and state Cabinet secretary in two Republican administrations in the 1990s.  Meanwhile, 41 percent say they plan to vote for Coakley, the state’s current attorney general.

  " Baker has the upper hand and there are some worrisome indicators for Martha Coakley," said Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute and a professor of political science at WNEU. 

     Baker has built significant leads among men and independents. Coakley’s advantage among women falls short of what a Democrat typically needs to win statewide in Massachusetts.

     The poll surveyed 430 likely voters by telephone between Oct. 21-30. It has a sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points. Seven percent of likely voters said they were undecided. Five percent of the vote is divided among three independent candidates. This and other public polls have shown Baker maintaining a slim lead in the race heading into the final weekend of the campaign.

      " That would suggest that he ( Baker) is closing the deal with voters, and in particular he seems to be closing the deal with the all important independent vote that makes up half the electorate."said Vercellotti.

       The poll found Baker holds a 25-point lead among voters who identify themselves as independent. He has an 18-point lead with men, while Coakley’s lead among women is just six points.

    Coakley also appears to have a problem shoring up her base. Seventy-five percent of Democratic likely voters said they support Coakley, but 15 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Baker.  No Republicans in the poll said they would back Coakley

     Vercellotti said issues voters in the poll identified as being most important to them also line up favorably for Baker.

     "The economy, cutting the size of government and lowering taxes are issues voters are citing fairly frequently."

     There is evidence in this poll that TV ads paid for by super PACs supporting Baker that have been harshly critical of Coakley have had an impact.   Forty-seven percent of likely voters said they had an unfavorable view of  Coakley – an increase of nine points from a  September survey.

       Coakley’s campaign has said it is counting heavily on the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s battle-tested get-out-the-vote operation, but Springfield-based political consultant Tony Cignoli said the Democrats might not have such a big edge in the ground game this time.

   " The best ground game ever put together by any Republican in Massachusetts belongs to Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito."

    Baker and his running mate Karyn Polito both saw the impact of the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote effort in 2010, when Baker lost the governor’s race to Deval Patrick and Polito the treasurer’s race to Steve Grossman.   Cignoli said the Republicans have invested heavily in efforts to identify likely voters and get them to the polls Tuesday.

    " The science that Baker and Polito bring to this is unique to any Republican who has run before in Massachusetts."

      The latest WENU poll found the casino ballot question is lopsided in favor of moving ahead with plans to bring Las Vegas-style gambling to Massachusetts. Fifty-nine percent said they would vote against repealing the casino law, while 35 percent plan to vote yes on the ballot initiative. That gap has grown since September when an industry-funding pro-casino campaign launched a series of  TV ads that have aired more than 3,000 times.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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