MASS 2010 – NO HOPE, ONLY CHANGE COMING FOR DEVAL PATRICK
Deval Patrick’s ‘Bush-like’ poll numbers give the Massachusetts GOP and Independents a shot at the governorship. Michele Walk examines how and why it will happen.
It is looking increasingly unlikely that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will face an easy campaign in 2010, and it is near safe to say he will probably not be re-elected. Patrick’s numbers are slipping to what has been called “Bush-level:” in May, his disapproval rating was at almost 70% – a number that will surely skyrocket when the 1.5% sales tax increase to 6.5%, supported by Patrick, is implemented in August. Patrick promised in 2006 not to raise taxes and curtail wasteful spending – and has done neither. While he does have Obama campaign czar David Plouffe working for him, Massachusetts voters will likely be unresponsive to his lofty rhetoric and toss him and his Obama-like speeches out of the State House.
Though the election for Governor of Massachusetts hardly has national implications – the fact that Gov. Patrick was elected on a platform that was widely considered to be the ’sandbox test’ for the Obama method is now facing dismal approval numbers, and voters asking “where is the hope and change?” Deval Patrick’s campaign makes this the first re-election test of the Obama method.
The main challengers to Patrick are former Harvard-Pilgrim Health Care CEO Charlie Baker and current Treasurer Tim Cahill. Baker, who is considered by some to be a star in the MA GOP, recently declared his candidacy to the delight of Massachusetts Republicans. It is Cahill, though, who was the big surprise: in the weeks before his declaration, the majority of those who speculated about his candidacy assumed that he would run against Deval Patrick in the Democratic primary. Instead, he left the Democratic Party and will run as an independent.
Current poll data has Charlie Baker trailing behind Deval Patrick by 5%, with Patrick garnering about 40% of the vote. However, as mentioned above, you can expect that number will begin to slip in August due to the sales tax increase. As of May, about 55% of Democrats disapproved of Patrick, and that group will probably split their vote between Cahill and Baker. Patrick will probably still receive 30-35% of the vote, Cahill 15-20%, and Baker 40-45% with the remainder going to independent candidates. It’s hard to find a way that that Cahill will take votes away from Baker; but as a former Democrat, Cahill will take votes away from Patrick.