MAGOV14 : CHARLIE BAKER’S BEST POLL NUMBERS YET SEND A MESSAGE

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^ being a Massachusetts governor means speaking Massachusetts language : Charlie Baker speaking Massachusetts-ese to voters at a meet and greet

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The Boston Globe’s new poll of Massachusetts’s Governor election yields Charlie Baker his best numbers yet. He now polls 36 percent, while his likely Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley, draws only 39 percent.

Last week, the same poll had it Coakley 40, Baker 35. And that poll was a better Baker result than the previous Globe poll, which showed Coakley at 40, Baker at 32.

Clearly, Baker is amassing support, and doing so the best way : slowly, gradually, one voter at a time, so to speak. He is doing it as it should be done : by increasing his own support, not by taking support away from an opponent.

The strongest campaigns take care to run themselves : not to negate the other guy or gal, but to create a Yes and add many Yes’s to it. Positive support is hard to lose. Voters voting against one candidate can be swayed easily; their loyalty is to “dislike,” not to a candidate. Baker will surely take votes from people disliking his opponent, but he much prefers — or should much prefer — votes that want him no matter who the opponent is.

Baker seems to understand that in Massachusetts, voters for offices other than national do not vote party, they vote the man or woman. And though in November, there’ll only be two candidates, it’s much wiser for a candidate to run against all of his or her rivals than to pray for the “right” November opponent. Baker is doing that. He is running as if he, Coakley, Grossman, and Berwick were all in the same primary. This is how one wins in Massachusetts.

One runs for Governor of Massachusetts not on a party basis, because the issues aren’t party issues. 80 % of Massachusetts voters know what they want : a positive agenda, progressive but not pie in the sky, well managed, reformist, sensible and flexible, on issues economic, administrative, judicial; on energy policy, criminal justice, immigration. The one issue that almost all Massachusetts voters agree should be uncompromised is civil rights. A governor must voice passionately full rights for every sort of person. A governor candidate who trims on civil rights is in trouble; one who opposes them is toast.

Because 80% of Massachusetts voters agree on what they want and to what degree, the deciders become (1) who can do the job the best (2) whose priorities do we want and (3) who can best work with the Legislature to get them done.

None of this is a party matter. Baker gets this. His campaign has been devoid of party bias. He is campaigning in Massachusetts language and doing so convincingly.

Baker is quite lucky that none of his three opponents matches his command of Massachusetts-speak. Berwick cannot do so because his policy agenda is too radical. Coakley cannot do so because she speaks vague rather than competence. Steve Grossman can’t do so because his support rises from the Democratic party voters who insist on being Democrats first. The party Is their agenda, as it is not for at least two-thirds of Massachusetts voters. Only of late — probably too late — has Grossman begun to sound less like a Democrat and more like a Massachusetts. He remains far, far behind Coakley in the new Boston Globe poll.

But now to the Poll and its message about Baker.

Baker’s favorable-unfavorable-not well enough known numbers are 47 to 18 to 35.
Coakley’s numbers in this regard are 54 to 37 to 9.
Grossman’s numbers here stand at 33 to 14 to 52.
Don Berwick’s numbers embarrass his progressivism : 10 to 5 to 85.

Head to head, Baker gets 36 percent to Coakley’s 39; 37 to Grossman’s 29; and 42 to Don Berwick’s 18.

On the issues, Massachusetts voters differ hugely from voters in “red” states :

Do you own a gun ? 66 % say no, only 30 % say yes.
Should we have stricter gun control ? 47 % say yes, 35 % say we have enough; only 15 % say we should have less gun control.
Should the casino law be repealed ? 51 % say no, 41 % say yes.
Do you feel safe at night ? 96 % ay yes, only 4 % say no.
Do you feel safe walking your neighborhood at night ? 84 % say yes, only 13 % say no.

Clearly Massachusetts voters are not ruled by fear and thus are not obsessed by guns. Indeed, far more people (37 %) have a very unfavorable opinion of the NRA than the 17% who have a very favorable opinion of it.

28 % of our voters identify as liberals, 28 % as conservatives, although of the 39% who identify as moderates there is a 26 to 39 lean toward conservative. Query, however, what Massachusetts voters mean by “conservative.” i doubt that they mean Tea Party or Koch Brothers. Probably more a state of mind than a political agenda.

Massachusetts voters are optimistic about themselves and their community, pragmatic, open minded, wanting reform but not repeal — a way of saying “decided questions should remain decided” — and ready to think as citizens, not loners. Thinking as citizens, Massachusetts voters want a governor who knows what he or she believes in, who can articulate an agenda authoritatively, who speaks the phrases of flexibility, open to new facts and situations, able to change his or her mind if need be, to walk back inadequate remarks without hedging; a shrewd dealer and a good guy or gal who treats everyone as a friend and neighbor.

As you must already have surmised, that is a description of Charlie Baker.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

#MAGOV14 CHARLIE BAKER STUMBLES. RECOVERS — AND POLLS WELL

1 Baker and Coakley BG

^ Baker stumbles, recovers, and polls well ; Martha Coakley pounces — but mishandles even that.

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Charlie Baker, GOP candidate for Governor, got a huge present yesterday : a new Boston Globe poll according hm his best numbers yet. In a matchup with likely Democratic nominee Martha Coakley he now gets 35 to her 40, with a full one-quarter of voters still undecided or supporting one of the non-party candidates.

This was good news indeed — and there was more: I’ll discuss it below — especially after days in which Baker, running as the accomplished manager of state government, stumbled in his management of himself.

On Wednesday he told the Boston Globe that “Hobby Lobby doesn’t change a thing in Massachusetts, because our own health care law accords women all their health care needs.”

Immediately all three Democratic candidates charged Baker with going South on women’s health care — Coakley, in her typical classless fashion, used Baker’s remarks to fuel a fundraising letter.

Actually, all three Democrats didn’t know the whole story. On Wednesday night Baker’s wife Lauren and his running mate, Karyn Polito, were on stage at NARAL’s “Supreme rally.” Both gave me — I was there as a WGBH journalist — statements in which they made very clear their outrage about both the Hobby Lobby and Buffer Zone Law rulings. I thus knew that the statement that Baker gave to the Globe could not be the entire picture.

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^ GOP Lieutenant Governor candidate Karyn Polito at Supreme rally : she gave me this statement : “I have always supported women’s rights to access health care and am here to protest the Supreme Court rulings !”

Next day, in fact, Baker reversed his remarks. He agreed that there might be some corporations in Massachusetts that would qualify under the Hobby Lobby ruling (in which the Court gave closely-held corporations an exemption from the ACA’s requirements on Freedom of Religion Act grounds)  for an exemption from providing women employees full access to contraceptive health care. “If that happens,” Baker said, “my administration will provide these women contraceptive health care through public funding.” Baker also encouraged Governor Patrick and legislators to devise a new abortion clinic “protection zone” in light of the Buffer zone law being struck down.

All good; and, in fact, the misspeak gave Baker a chance, in the full glare of news, to make clear his uncompromising support for women’s full access to health care, including pregnancy care.

That part of the flap will end; and it’s likely that Baker will now have many media opportunities to repeat his strong support for women’s health care. But he did stumble; and as the “competent manager’ candidate, Baker should not be stumbling how he manages his own statements. It better not happen again. Baker needs to be sure of himself, to speak his true mind and not to try to hedge — which is what I think he was attempting. Vital issues like women’s health care cannot be compromised away or smoothed; a Massachusetts governor has to be vocal, strong, morally sure of the right thing — as was Mayor Marty Walsh in his speech at the Supreme rally. Baker would do well to study vidclips of that speech and to adopt Walsh’s indignant moral certainty about the rights of women and of all. it’s what we expect, — and always have expected — here in Massachusetts, of our political leaders.

And now to the Boston Globe poll. If its findings are accurate, Baker stands in a very good position to be our next governor :

His favorable-unfavorable rating is 47 favorable, only 18 unfavorable. Yes, 20 percent of voters still don’t recognize his name. that needs be worked on.

Coakley’s numbers ? Not quite as good as Charlie’s. 54 favorable;le, 36 unfavorable. But only 6 percent of voters don’t recognize her.

Coakley’s the dominant Democrat.  Steve Grossman’s numbers are 32 percent favorable, 13 unfavorable, 55 percent unsure or don’t know him. Don Berwick, for all the news noise he has made, barely registers with voters : 10 percent favorable, 4 percent unfavorable, a full 86 percent unsure or don’t know him. Two months from primary day, Martha Coakley absolutely commands : 53 percent to Grossman’s 17 and Berwick’s 5.

The poll also shows that Massachusetts voters feel optimistic about our state’s economy and lifestyle. Asked to agree or disagree with the statement “living in Massachusetts is very expensive but worth it,”  a full 65 percent say it’s worth it, only 30 percent say it isn’t worth it.

Those who oppose casinos will also have to accept that their view is, thankfully, a minority position. 51 of voters say “keep the casino law in place”; 41 percent say repeal it.

Charlie Baker in this poll looks well positioned, despite all — despite the national GOP’s depressing negativity–  to be our next Governor : IF he can win a majority of the 20 percent still undecided. He will find himself leading voters who are glad to live in Massachusetts, even at great expense; who feel confident about the future; who care a lot about women’s health care rights, and who want an open, tolerant, liberal society — and will have it, well managed from the State House, assuming the manager candidate doesn’t fumble his advantage away.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere