Martha Coakley Rolls Right Along
Frank Phillips’s cover story in this week’s unfortunately named Globe Capital section is a diligent and well-executed analysis of what each of the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates need to do in the month remaining before the September 9 primary. But the weekly poll in the same section reveals that analysis to be little more than the type of “please keep watching” filler announcers dredge up heading into the fourth quarter of a blowout. “Remember, Denver once came back from a 28-point deficit in 1982…”
That’s especially true once you get into the cross-tabs of the poll, which show Martha Coakley’s popularity is solid among Democrats of pretty much every demography. Overall, she leads with 45 percent to Steve Grossman’s 18 percent and Don Berwick’s 9 percent; she is over 40 percent with almost every category of voter.
This comes after both Steve Grossman and the pro-Grossman Super PAC Mass Forward ran a few hundred thousand dollars worth of ads—ads I suggested were too tame to be game-changers, but you would think they would have some effect. They have had absolutely none, according to the Globe polling.
That’s deadly for Grossman, because he needed to move the dial to convince people to give more to help him keep closing the gap. Now, well, nobody but his mother has any reason to contribute to him now, and even she might have her limits.
As for Don Berwick: according to the Globe poll, 71 percent of Democrats don’t recognize his name a month before the party primary. $500,000 and a couple of barely noticed debates are not going to catch him up to a very popular frontrunner. Berwick did get a little bump from 5 to 9 percent in the horse race, but that appears to have come from a flukey 14 percent showing among conservatives. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a number of conservative Democrats who know they don’t like Coakley and Grossman, and will thus throw their vote to the unfamiliar third name on the ballot, but I don’t think that demo will win him the primary.
Even less likely is the notion that Mark Fisher will be anything but a speed bump under Charlie Baker’s tires. So, as much as we’d like to be interested in this game, realistically we’re already into the next round of playoffs.
The Globe poll has a little good news for Baker on that front: Independent Jeff McCormick appears to have gained absolutely nothing from staking out a position as the only candidate (save Fisher) opposed to housing guardian-less border-crossing children. Nothing at all.
That’s a mighty blow to McCormick, it seems to me—especially since the children aren’t actually coming here, to allow him to keep demagoguing at their expense. He gains nothing, but has surely sealed off a large number of potential supporters who he might have appealed to at some point.
But the poll is mostly bad news for Baker. Despite the probation patronage convictions, and the above-mentioned first ads of the cycle criticizing Coakley, the presumptive Democratic nominee’s numbers are unchanged while his are softening.
This week’s poll has Coakley stretching her general-election lead to 11 points: 42 to 31 percent over Baker. She is dead even with him among men, which is brutal for his chances; she holds a 21-point lead among women that can only come down so far.
Perhaps most telling, though, is the right track/wrong track numbers. Voters are reasonably happy with the way things are going here, and getting happier—and that appears to be translating into keeping things going with another Democratic governor, versus changing course with a Republican. Overall, right track is at 43 percent, wrong track 38 percent, a slight improvement over the past two weeks. Crucial Independent voters tilt a little toward wrong track, 44-34 percent, which corresponds pretty well with Baker’s lead among Independents, 35-28 percent over Coakley—and which is not nearly enough for him in this Democrat-heavy state.
Obviously there is still plenty of time between now and early November for that dynamic to change. But between now and September 9? Well, huge comebacks have happened before, so … please keep watching.