Insiders Poll: The 2014 State Races Are Up For Grabs
A year away from a major turnover in state-wide officeholders, political insiders across Massachusetts are having a tough time foreseeing how it will all shake out.
Their best guesses, according to my new Insiders Poll, are that Martha Coakley, Steve Kerrigan, Warren Tolman, and Barry Finegold will be the new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer in 2015—but their confidence level in those predictions is strikingly low.
They place the odds of Democrats retaining the corner office at just 51 percent. And when looking at the Democratic fields for those offices, they don’t see a single candidate with a greater than 50 percent chance of winning their nomination.
For this poll, I asked insiders to estimate the likelihood, in percentages, of the possible outcomes in the general election and Democratic primary for those open offices, where no incumbent is seeking re-election. Nearly 100 responded; see the bottom of this post for a partial list of respondents (some asked to remain anonymous).
The aggregated numbers are below. They represent the likelihood of each possible outcome as the state’s political insiders currently see it.
GOVERNOR: General Election Winner
It is the big question looming over Massachusetts politics: Will voters replace Deval Patrick with another Democrat, or return to their previous predilection for Republicans in the corner office? A year out, the insiders see it as little more than a coin toss. They give a slight edge to the status quo, saying it is a 51 percent chance that a Democrat will win the governorship, a 47 percent chance that expected GOP nominee Charlie Baker will win, and a slim chance of an independent or third-party candidate taking the prize. Fewer than a third of respondents give either side a greater than 55 percent likelihood of victory.
In their comments, many said that they expect Baker to be a better candidate than he was in his unsuccessful 2010 bid—and the Democratic nominee to be a worse candidate than Patrick was. Nevertheless, they feel that Baker will need to run a flawless race to overcome the state’s Democratic voting tendencies.
GOVERNOR: Democratic Primary Winner
Martha Coakley dominates the early polling, but the insiders clearly don’t see her as an inevitable nominee. She’s the leader of the pack, to be sure, but they say it’s more likely—56 percent to 44 percent chance—to be someone other than her going up against Baker. A mere 7 percent of respondents gave her a better than 60 percent chance of winning the primary.
The insiders see it as a two-person race, with Steve Grossman’s prolific fundraising and dogged campaigning giving him a strong chance. Of the lower-tier candidates, they think Juliette Kayyem has the best shot to break through, although some say her stump speech is not yet convincing.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: General Election Winner
The GOP does not yet have a candidate for this office, but many of the insiders think that even a good Republican would have an uphill climb, with a solid slate of Democratic contenders and an office most voters seem to prefer in Democratic hands.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: Democratic Primary Winner
Many of the insiders consider little-known Healey, a top deputy in the AG’s office, to be a very strong candidate: smart, impressive, with liberal appeal. Plus, she is the only current prosecutor in the field, and historically that’s what voters have opted for.
However, most see former state senator Warren Tolman holding too many advantages, in name recognition, institutional support, fundraising ability, progressive credentials, campaign staffing, and—oh by the way—a brother who is the top organized labor leader in the state.
Hank Naughton is seen as a strong candidate as well, but unlikely to prevail in this race; only 14 percent gave him a better than one-in-three chance of winning the primary. It’s also worth noting that quite a few insiders clearly believe the chatter about another strong AG candidate still planning to enter this race.
TREASURER: General Election Winner
Moreso than in the AG race, this imbalance seems to stem from the lack of a declared GOP candidate, judging by insiders’ comments. Many see this as a winnable race for a good, well-funded Republican—especially because they aren’t terribly impressed by the Democrats in the race.
But insiders are coming to believe that the GOP simply doesn’t have anyone to put up in this race. A few mentioned special US Senate election candidate Gabriel Gomez as someone who could make the race interesting.
TREASURER: Democratic Primary Winner
Insiders think Conroy will have trouble competing with the funding and organization of Finegold and Goldberg, but aside from that many confess they have little idea who holds the advantage in this race. And one of every five respondents think a late entrant is at least as likely as anyone else to win the nomination.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Democratic Primary Winner
Steve Kerrigan, who has been amassing money and support for months, is seen as the clear favorite between the two declared candidates for Lieutenant Governor. But an awful lot of the insiders expect at least one more strong candidate to get in this race before too long.
The 96 participating Insiders include (affiliations for identification only): Paul Adams, former state representative; Jason Aluia, Mass. Association of Health Plans; Brent Andersen, GOP state committee; Jay Ash, Chelsea city manager; George Bachrach, Environmental League of Mass.; Matt Barron, MLB Research Associates; David Begelfer, NAIOP Mass.; Alexander Bok, Boston Baseball Field of Dreams; Beth Boland, Foley & Lardner; Ian Bowles, Windsail Capital; Ed Cafasso, Solomon McCown; Gregory Casey, former Scott Brown staff; Leland Cheung, Cambridge City Council; Jamie Chisholm, Resolute Consulting; Chris Condon, SEIU 509; Nick Connors, NLC Consulting; Brian Corr, Cambridge Consulting Services; George Cronin, Rasky Baerlein; Sean Curran, Waterville Consulting; Angela Davis, GOP state committee; Owen H. Davis, campaign professional; Geri Denterlein, Denterlein Worldwide; Dee Dee Edmondson, Edmondson Strategies; Scott Ferson, Liberty Square Group; Peter Forman, South Shore Chamber of Commerce; Charles Glick, Charles Consulting Group; Abbie Goodman, The Engineering Center; Alexander Gray, governor’s staff; Rob Gray, Gray Media Group; David Guarino, Melwood Global; Joseph Hanley, McDermott, Quilty & Miller; Emmett Hayes, Smith Ruddock & Hayes Public Policy; Mathew Helman, ProgressMass; David Howard, DH Consulting Group; Richard Howe, Middlesex North Register of Deeds; Dominick Ianno, Pfizer; Raymond Jordan, Democratic state committee; Liam Kerr, DFER Mass.; Christina Knowles, Mass. Caucus of Women Legislators; Scott Lang, Lang, Xifaras & Bullard; Matt LeBretton, New Balance; David Linsky, state representative; Jay Livingstone, state representative; Bill Manzi, Methuen town manager; Ryan McCollum, RMC Strategies; Ann Murphy, O’Neill and Associates; Tim O’Brien, athenahealth; Mary Olberding, Hampshire Register of Deeds; Matt O’Malley, Boston City Council; Natasha Perez, consultant; Frank Perullo, Sage Systems; Sean Pierce, office of state senator Linda Dorcena Forry; Larry Rasky, Rasky Baerlein; Diane Saxe, Democratic state committee; Jim Spencer, The Campaign Network; Nancy Stenberg, Massachusetts Teachers Association; Charlie Ticotsky, Metropolitan Area Planning Council; Steven Tompkins, Suffolk Sheriff; Paul Trane, Telecom Insight Group; Meredith Warren, Lyric Consulting; Alice Wolf, former state representative; Conor Yunits, Liberty Square Group; Reggie Zimmerman, MassUniting; and others who requested anonymity.