That’s not a typo. A new Boston Globe poll has Republican Charlie Baker up nine percentage points over his Democratic opponent Martha Coakley. Even if this poll is an outlier (which seems at least plausible given the race has been very close for weeks), Baker is probably still the front-runner. The Republican is earning 45 percent of the vote; his opponent is capturing just 36 percent.
This is honestly surprising. You don’t need me to tell you that Massachusetts is as liberal a state as they come, as evidenced by the last presidential election. Now, however, the Republican in the race has opened up (almost) a double-digit lead.
Why? The Boston Globe has some insight:
The poll depicts an electorate highly susceptible to the recent barrage of political advertising on television. Two weeks ago, Coakley, the state’s attorney general, led Baker by 5 points in the same poll. According to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG, a firm that tracks political television commercials, $2.2 million in ads paid for by gubernatorial candidates and allied groups — more than 1,700 individual spots — aired on broadcast television from Oct. 12 through Oct. 19.
This also might have something to do with it:
In the governor’s race, Baker has picked up momentum with an across-the-board improvement on questions where voters were asked which candidate would do a better job handling certain broad policy areas. For instance, in mid-September, the poll gave him a 15-point lead over Coakley on creating jobs. In this week’s poll, he is ahead by 24 points.
Unenrolled voters make up roughly half of the state’s electorate. So since since Baker is now dominating independents (57/20), and only losing women by a few percentage points, he’s put himself in a position to win. Democrats still back their party’s candidate by an overwhelming margin (73/13), but Baker’s lead among male voters (55/30) and indies (see above), could make the difference. There are also rumblings that voters want to take the state in a new direction. Fifty-two percent of respondents say Baker “will manage the state effectively”; only 27 percent said Coakley would.
His messaging to voters, therefore, seems to be moving the needle.