Charlie Baker and the incredible vanishing gender gap

Analyzing the latest polls

Charlie Baker has bridged the gender gap. Nationally, Democratic women are fleeing the Republican party, threatening to swing a host of offices to Democrats, while men still tilt right. But women here in Massachusetts prefer Baker over Democrat Jay Gonzalez by about the same margins as do male voters.

This was by no means expected. Baker’s two previous runs for governor featured two of the largest gender gaps in recent statewide electoral history.

When we refer to the gender gap gap, we mean the distance between the margins among male voters and female voters. If a Republican wins men by 7 points and the Democrat wins women by 6, the gender gap is 13 points.

Averaging together the latest WBUR and Suffolk/Boston Globe polls, Charlie Baker’s gender gap is a scant 4 points. This is not because men and women have suddenly started voting similarly here in Massachusetts. Looking at the Senate race, Elizabeth Warren leads Republican challenger Geoff Diehl among women voters by 41 points, while the race is within a point among men.

Pre-election polls in 2016 showed the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump following a similar structure, with a 44 point lead among women contrasting to an 8 point race closer race among male voters.

If these numbers hold on election day, Warren’s gap would be a new record among recent statewide elections. The previous record was set when Charlie Baker his lost first bid for governor to Deval Patrick in 2010. The gender gap in that race was 37 points. Baker’s successful 2014 run again Martha Coakley featured the third largest recent gap: 34 points.

Meet the Author

Steve Koczela

President, MassINC Polling Group

About Steve Koczela

Steve Koczela is the President of The MassINC Polling Group, where he has grown the organization from its infancy to a nationally known and respected polling provider. During the 2014 election cycle, MPG conducted election polling for WBUR, the continuation of a three-year partnership. Koczela again led the endeavor, producing polls which came within one point of the margin in both the Massachusetts gubernatorial and U.S. Senate Elections. He was also lead writer for Poll Vault, WBUR’s political reporting section during the 2014 Election Cycle.

He has led survey research programs for the U.S. Department of State in Iraq, in key states for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and has conducted surveys and polls on behalf of many private corporations. Koczela brings a deep understanding of the foundations of public opinion and a wide ranging methodological expertise. He earned U.S. Department of State recognition for his leading edge work on sample evaluation in post conflict areas using geospatial systems.

Koczela is frequent guest on WBUR as well as many other news and talk programs in Massachusetts and elsewhere. His polling analysis is often cited in local, state, and national media outlets. He currently serves as President of the New England Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (NEAAPOR). Koczela holds a Master’s degree in Marketing Research from the University of Wisconsin and is a veteran of the war in Iraq.

About Steve Koczela

Steve Koczela is the President of The MassINC Polling Group, where he has grown the organization from its infancy to a nationally known and respected polling provider. During the 2014 election cycle, MPG conducted election polling for WBUR, the continuation of a three-year partnership. Koczela again led the endeavor, producing polls which came within one point of the margin in both the Massachusetts gubernatorial and U.S. Senate Elections. He was also lead writer for Poll Vault, WBUR’s political reporting section during the 2014 Election Cycle.

He has led survey research programs for the U.S. Department of State in Iraq, in key states for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and has conducted surveys and polls on behalf of many private corporations. Koczela brings a deep understanding of the foundations of public opinion and a wide ranging methodological expertise. He earned U.S. Department of State recognition for his leading edge work on sample evaluation in post conflict areas using geospatial systems.

Koczela is frequent guest on WBUR as well as many other news and talk programs in Massachusetts and elsewhere. His polling analysis is often cited in local, state, and national media outlets. He currently serves as President of the New England Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (NEAAPOR). Koczela holds a Master’s degree in Marketing Research from the University of Wisconsin and is a veteran of the war in Iraq.

Meet the Author

Richard Parr

Research Dir., MassINC Polling Group
The fact that Baker has closed his gender gap from 34 to 4, in a bad year for Republicans and against national trends, is a testament to the breadth of his support. The 30 percent of voters who are planning on voting for both Baker for governor and Warren for Senate are disproportionately female and Democratic. In other words, there are many more Warren voters willing to cross-over for Charlie Baker than vice versa.

Baker’s cross-party, cross-gender appeal is a notable bright spot in a campaign season that has somehow gotten even darker and more divisive in its final week. In the aftermath of the election, politicians and analysts looking for an alternative to partisan rancor may be giving blue Massachusetts and its red governor a closer look after election day.