The first poll of the 2014 gubernatorial election released Wednesday by The MassInc Polling Group shows Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley in the lead for the November 2014 election for governor.
Coakley, who launched her campaign in September, has 39 percent of the votes, 10 points higher than Republican frontrunner Charlie Baker.
“[The poll] shows us that Martha Coakley right now is in a better position relative to competitor Charlie Baker and the other candidates,” said Richard Parr, research director at MassInc Polling Group. “There are a very high number of people that don’t know right now who they are going to vote for, so that’s a factor.”
Parr said Coakley’s lead is largely due to her high favorability ratings. A total of 53 percent of voters have a positive opinion of Coakley, and 16 percent were undecided. Only 3 percent had never heard of the candidate.
“A large effect right now has to do with the fact that Martha Coakley has much better name recognition, and the people who know her have a favorable opinion of her,” he said. “That’s why she’s matched up better against Charlie Baker.”
While Baker trails Coakley in the polls, his numbers top those of the other four Democratic candidates. He has a 32 percent favorability rating, and a quarter of voters have never heard of him, Parr said.
“Charlie Baker ran for governor in 2010 and then he sort of disappeared a little bit from the political scene,” he said. “These numbers indicate that he’s making an impression with voters. By starting this campaign, he’s putting himself in a good position for 2014.”
Travis Shofner, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Democratic Party, said the results of the poll are a testament to the work that Patrick has done for Massachusetts.
“Voters know that Democrats have the best ideas for moving our economy forward, improving education, creating jobs, investing in transportation and infrastructure and fighting for a stronger middle class,” he said. “Unfortunately, Republican Charlie Baker is trying to turn back the clock and claims that Massachusetts isn’t on the right track. But voters are too smart and won’t be fooled by Charlie.”
Kirsten Hughes, MassGOP chairwoman, said in a Wednesday release the main issues with Coakley and opposing Democratic candidate Steve Grossman are their lack of transparency with their constituents.
“It is alarming that the two public officials in the race for Governor, Coakley and Grossman appear to have the most to hide from voters,” she said. “Coakley failing this simple test of transparency is unfortunately more of the same from the woman who has violated campaign finance laws repeatedly and refused to offer a full explanation or agree to an independent state investigation.”
Parr said numbers will continue to fluctuate over the next nine months before the election and particularly in the five months before the June Democratic convention. Candidates will need to receive at least 15 percent of the delegates’ votes at the convention to move on to the primary.
“For all the candidates, they’re going to want to get their names out there more,” he said. “Even Grossman, who has run for statewide office [and is] the current State Treasurer … 43 percent of voters right now have not heard of him.”
Douglas Kriner, a political science professor at Boston University, said the statistics revealed in the polls are not accurate predictions for election results.
“The further you are from reality, the more it is people are flipping a coin,” he said. “People don’t know much about the race. They’re accurate within the limits of statistical sampling, but as far as predicting what will happen months from now, there’s no reason to think they’ll be accurate. Polls have a very bad history of predicting results far ahead of time.”