The race marches on, the candidates keep campaigning, advertising, and debating, and the numbers keep getting worse for Charlie Baker.
Western New England College has released a new poll of 400 likely voters taken October 16-21. Bottom line: the same lead that Deval Patrick has held for months, of roughly 6-8 points, is stable or increasing. Baker has a very slight edge among independent voters (32-26), which is far less than what he needs to overcome the Democrats’ 3:1 advantage in voter registration. Recall that Scott Brown’s overall win was 52-47, and pre-election polling showed him with a 30-point lead among independents. A modest 5-10 point lead among independents is not going to do it for Baker.
Cahill is at 8%, Stein at 5%, and 8% were undecided (5%) or refused to state a preference (3%).
Another piece of good news for the Patrick camp is that among registered (as opposed to “likely”) voters, Patrick’s advantage is much larger, at 45-32. So if the massive Democratic GOTV effort that is now underway has some effect, the odds of getting some of those less-than-super-reliable voters to the polls increases, and should help Patrick.
To be sure, there are warning signs in this poll for Team Deval. One is that the number of supporters who say they might change their mind is slightly higher for him (26%) than for Baker (18%). Another is that fully 69% of Cahill voters said they may change their mind, and if they move to Baker in large numbers, that could be a problem. At this point, I think it unlikely that that will happen; I think the movement will pretty much split along the same lines as the independent voters generally. That won’t be enough to give Baker a win if the preference numbers in this poll hold up.
But the overall message, I think, is clearly “stay the course.” The campaign is working. Patrick’s numbers are slowly creeping upward (Patrick led 39-33 in WNEC’s last poll a month ago), even as a majority of MA voters still answer “wrong track” to the “right direction/wrong track” question. That suggests that people are concerned about the state’s future, but that they also think that Governor Patrick the better person to lead the way.