Baker’s Brown deficit

Gubernatorial candidate fared less well among women, unenrolled

Comparing last week’s election to the January special election for US Senate provides an interesting look at how Scott Brown was successful while Charlie Baker came up short. Baker’s loss was essentially a carbon copy of Brown’s victory when looking at men, Democrats, and Republicans; women and unenrolled voters broke more toward Gov. Deval Patrick and thereby changed the outcome.

To compare the two races, I looked at a Washington Post poll conducted in Massachusetts in the immediate aftermath of the January special election, and compared those results to the MassINC Polling Group Post Election Poll, conducted last week.

Men went for Brown by 14 points and Baker by 13 points, essentially the same margin. It was among women where the gubernatorial election differed strongly with the January special election. In January, Brown closed the typical gender gap among female voters, losing to Martha Coakley by just 3 points. In November, however, Patrick ran up a 24-point margin among women, which partially explains the difference in the outcomes.

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.

A similar trend shows up when looking at party affiliation. Looking first at Democrats, the margin for Coakley was 64 points, while for Patrick it was 65. The margin among Republicans was also similar—Baker locked up Republicans, winning an 83 point margin to Brown’s 90 points. While this 7-point difference may seem noteworthy, Republicans make up only 12 or 13 percent of the electorate in each cycle, meaning a 7 point difference in the margin among Republicans is only about 1 percent of the overall electorate.

It was among unenrolled voters where the real change occurred. While Brown won unenrolled voters by 31 points, Baker’s margin was only 14. In a state where just over half the electorate is unenrolled, a Republican candidate needs a very large margin, such as Brown accumulated, in order to be successful.

To be successful and get reelected, Brown will need to maintain his popularity among the two groups who went for him in January but did not go for Baker. He is off to a good start with this task. Two thirds of unenrolled voters and 48 percent of women view him favorably, according to Suffolk’s final pre-election poll. These levels are nearly identical to the percentages of the vote he received among each group in January. His task is to maintain these levels of support even as he becomes, in his own words, the Democrats’ “biggest target.”