Poll indicates Baker remains wildly popular
Problems with COVID vaccine rollout, website, have not hurt his numbers
A NEW POLL from The MassINC Polling Group out this week finds Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker still riding high with 74 percent approval and just 20 percent disapproval among the state’s residents. Those numbers are basically unchanged from the 73 percent figure found in the last MPG statewide poll taken in December 2020. Over and over again, political observers have speculated which scandal or failure might be Baker’s eventual undoing. And, like clockwork, the next poll finds him right where he has been.
The latest possible erroneous pre-diagnosis of Baker’s demise was the painfully slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts. While Massachusetts was widely reported to be near the bottom of state rankings in distribution, residents were largely unaware of the slow pace, with most residents believing the rollout was either somewhere in the middle of the pack (54 percent) or among the fastest (11 percent).
The state’s placement changed during the poll’s February 9-21 fielding period. During this period, the state climbed from near worst in the nation to the top 10 on several measures. But even during the slow rollout at the beginning of the poll’s field period, residents were largely unaware that we were among the nation’s slowest.
The calamitous failure of the state’s vaccine scheduling website, another issue widely discussed in media reports, also happened during the poll’s fielding period. Even so, 71 percent of the state’s residents approve of how Baker has handled the pandemic.
The persistent question is how Baker seems to forever float in the political stratosphere, unencumbered by the laws of political gravity that affect everyone else. Baker has been in office for over seven years, and his numbers have never really sagged in a major way. The weight of scandals and management failures have never pulled him closer to earth. He has been among the nation’s most popular governors for a staggeringly long period of time.
One thing we can mostly rule out is some sort of methodological quirk producing these high ratings. Everyone who reads polls knows the art and science is changing these days, with more and more polling done online. Our recent readings for Baker have mostly been from online polls. But our measurements have largely been in line with many other pollsters using a variety of methods in recent months and years.
For this wave, just to be extra sure that Baker’s sky-high approval rating was not due to an unexpected methodological artifact, we also added an approval rating reading to another poll we are fielding right now with a different method and found it in a similar range. This adds to our confidence these persistently high ratings are measuring the state’s actual sentiments regarding the governor.So while down on earth, reporters comb through the wreckage of the COVID vaccine website, Baker can be found where he has been, soaring far above.
Steve Koczela is the president of The MassINC Polling Group.