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