Friday, September 23, 2005

State House News Poll and Trends

The September numbers for the bimonthly State House News Poll are out and they tell an interesting story. The big story is that were the vote held today, the gay marriage ban would fail, with only 43% in favor and 51% opposed. The tricky thing about those results is that what people are willing to say to a pollster may not match what they're going to do in the voting booth, but I would have to say that those are encouraging results and with three more years before the measure ever sees the ballot, they're likely to only improve. Curiously enough, opposition to the measure is slightly greater among Independents than Democrats, though not by a statistically significant amount. In addition, support for the ballot question that would expand health coverage in Massachusetts was very high, with 62% in favor to 33% opposed. As we've seen before, Romney's favorability ratings are consistently higher than actual support for his re-election. That is, his favorability rating has stayed steady, now at 54%, but the highest he polls against any challenger is 45.9% (against Deval Patrick, down by four points from July).

Here are the head-to-head poll results, with the July results in parentheses.

If the candidates in next year's general election were Mitt Romney running as the Republican and [CHALLENGER] running as the Democrat and the election were being held tomorrow, for whom would you vote?
ChallengerRomneyDon't KnowNeither
Bill Galvin39.6%(40.2%)43.4%(48.8%)10.7%(7.3%)6.0%(3.4%)
Deval Patrick29.1%(35.1%)45.9%(49.9%)15.9% (9.5%)8.8%(5.4%)
Tom Reilly44.8%(47.1%)39.8%(44.0%)10.4%(6.2%)4.7%(2.7%)
The good news is that Mitt Romney's numbers have gone down across the board. The bad news, however, is that the Democrats' numbers have too as more people polled this time around are either undecided or unwilling to vote for any of the candidates. In any event, Tom Reilly is still ahead, and while his lead has grown, it's by a statistically insignificant amount. Bill Galvin does measurably worse than Romney for the second poll in a row; where he was in a dead heat with the Governor back in May. Deval Patrick took a big hit from last month, the first time we've seen him backslide in a head-to-head poll with Romney, who gets his highest percentage against a Democrat here, likely due to Patrick's poor name recognition. Here's a graph of how the Democrats have been doing against Romney:
Those trendlines do not look good for any of the Democrats, as the only candidate that was showing a positive trend, Deval Patrick, took a sharp drop and the others failed to reverse the steady erosion of their numbers. In a vacuum, these numbers are discouraging, but given that Romney's numbers have decreased as well, one would have to admit that this race is still very competitive.

Last time around, I also checked out the Democratic numbers in those head-to-head matchups. I was disappointed that more registered Democrats were unwilling to support the candidate from their party. This time around is no different, and in fact Tom Reilly does measurably worse with Democratic voters. Here's the breakdown of the percentage of Democrats voting for the candidate, with last poll's numbers in parenthesis:
Tom Reilly69.1%(76.2%)
Bill Galvin66.7%(61.4%)
Deval Patrick52.0%(55.4%)
Again, these numbers are probably a factor of name recognition, but it's hard to say why Reilly's numbers would have dropped, given that his name recognition could only have gone up in the past two months. As a consolation, however, Reilly does do the best out of the three candidates among Unenrolled voters, which explains why he's the only one beating Romney.

Of course, numbers against the Governor won't mean anything when Romney finally announces that he's not going to run for reelection. Sure, there's a chance that he might still run, and if he sees this poll he might be encouraged to try, but I think more people who are paying attention would be surprised if he actually did run than if he didn't. Even the State House News pollsters realize this, so for the first time, they've included the numbers for the three likely candidates against Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey.
If the candidates in next year's general election were Kerry Healey running as the Republican and [CHALLENGER] running as the Democrat and the election were being held tomorrow, for whom would you vote?
ChallengerHealeyDon't KnowNeither
Bill Galvin42.6%32.1%17.3%7.7%
Deval Patrick30.8%35.7%20.1% 12.6%
Tom Reilly48.6%28.3%14.8%8.0%
All of the Democrats to markedly better against Kerry Healey, though I would have liked to see Tom Reilly break fifty percent against her. Healey only beats Deval Patrick, who is the candidate with the lowest name recognition, but the undecideds in that matchup are so high as to almost render it meaningless. Another interesting thing is that the partisan splits amongst Democrats in this question are almost identical to the Romney matchups. That is, the same percentage of Democrats are willing to vote against the candidate from their party, regardless of who he's running against. That strikes me as odd, but it could just be a reflection of the Massachusetts public's desire for divided government.

Here are the poll results for the Democratic primary, along with the time series results for July, May and March:
Tom Reilly35.6%43.8%32.6%41.5%
Bill Galvin16.9%8.1%7.0%10.5%
Deval Patrick6.8%10.2%5.8%3.2%
Don't Know36.2%30.2%44.2%36.4%
The results across months aren't exactly comparable given that the poll included Mike Capuano last time around and Chris Gabrielli before that. Still, it's strange to see Tom Reilly's numbers so volatile. There's good news for Bill Galvin, though, as his numbers went up by a significantly significant amount without doing any campaigning whatsoever. Here's a chart with the three expected candidates:
The trend for Galvin is looking a lot better than it did just two months ago, and Patrick has to be pretty disappointed to see his modest gains reversed. Still, the numbers show that Reilly consistantly towers above the rest of the competition with just less than a year to go before the primary.