If Baker opts not to run, state GOP split on successor

Polito, Diehl bunched together, most Republicans undecided

A POLL COMMISSIONED by the conservative Fiscal Alliance Foundation indicates Republican primary voters would be split if Gov. Charlie Baker decides not to seek reelection next year.

The poll initially asked 752 voters who have cast ballots in previous Democratic and Republican primaries their stances on a handful of policy issues. It then asked a smaller group of voters who said they intend to vote in next year’s primary whom they would support for governor. Attorney General Maura Healey was the preferred candidate among Democrats, while Republicans were split between Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and former state rep Geoff Diehl, who is a big fan of former president Donald Trump.

In both parties, the largest segment was undecided on the governor’s race, which is not surprising with more than 1½ years to go before the primary. Polito received support from 21.7 percent of the 220 voters who said they plan to vote in next year’s Republican primary, and Diehl was close behind at 20.4 percent.  Fifty-eight percent were undecided.

The split within the state Republican Party is not that surprising, given Trump’s polarizing influence. Baker, for example, has largely divorced himself from the state Republican Party, whose chairman Jim Lyons is a big supporter of Trump.

On the Democrat side, Healey was the clear front runner, with nearly 35 percent of 406 expected Democratic primary voters backing her. The next closest candidate was Joe Kennedy with 22 percent, followed by former state senator Ben Downing at just under 2 percent and Danielle Allen at 1.7 percent.

Downing is the only declared candidate in the governor’s race. Baker has not indicated whether he will seek a third term.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

One of the poll’s policy questions indicated there is growing dissatisfaction among primary voters with the state’s vaccine rollout. According to the poll, 54 percent of Democratic primary voters strongly or somewhat disapprove of the vaccine rollout, while nearly 41 percent strongly or somewhat approve. On the Republican side, 52 percent of the voters strongly or somewhat disapprove of the vaccine rollout, and 43 percent strongly or somewhat approve.

The poll was conducted by Advantage, a Republican polling firm, between February 22 and February 26 via calls and text messages. The margin of error on the policy questions was 3.9 percent and 4.9 percent on the gubernatorial horse-race questions.