Sunday, November 27, 2005

More Bad Polling for Romney/Healey

After a self-imposed holiday news blackout for the long weekend, I was delighted to see that the November State House News Poll has been released. One of the reasons I like this poll in particular is because they not only ask questions about items recently in the news, but they also generally ask the same questions phrased the same way about the 2006 governor's race. They let me down this time, however, by not asking any questions about the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Even without those results, the poll is full of bad news for Governor Mitt Romney and his Lieutenant Governor, Kerry Healey. The lead story is that a majority of Massachusetts residents approve of allowing illegal immigrants who have graduated Massachusetts high schools to pay in-state tuition at UMass, something that Healey has come out strongly against. Not only that, but Healey's favorable/unfavorable ratings are "horrible" for someone trying to position herself for a run for governor, should Romney decline a second term, at least according to the pollster, Gerry Chervinsky. As for Romney, his favorablity rating has dipped below fifty percent for the first time since the poll began.

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

If the candidates in next year's general election for governor were Mitt Romney / [CHALLENGER], and the election were being held tomorrow, for whom would you vote?
ChallengerRomneyDon't KnowNeither
Bill Galvin45.7%(39.6%)40.6%(43.4%)6.3%(10.7%)6.8%(6.0%)
Deval Patrick39.8%(29.1%)41.8%(45.9%)10.5% (15.9%)7.4%(8.8%)
Tom Reilly52.3%(44.8%)36.1%(39.8%)5.4%(10.4%)5.4%(4.7%)
Every challenger does better against Romney now than just two months ago, and in turn, Romney does worse, so that the votes are coming from him, and not from the undecideds. Here's a graph showing how the Democrats have been doing against Romney since May.
What's interesting is how consistent the three challengers have been. Reilly always does better than Galvin who always does better than Patrick. Once you factor out name recognition, it may be that these numbers only reflect external factors -- Romney's approval rating and Democratic enrollment in Massachusetts -- and not anything specific any of the candidates are doing (or in the case of Galvin, not doing). You see the same pattern in the numbers against Kerry Healey, here:
If the candidates in next year's general election for governor were Kerry Healey / [CHALLENGER], and the election were being held tomorrow, for whom would you vote?
ChallengerHealeyDon't KnowNeither
Bill Galvin48.9%(42.6%)28.4%(32.1%)11.4%(17.3%)10.5%(7.7%)
Deval Patrick43.5%(30.8%)31.8%(35.7%)13.6%(20.1%)10.2%(12.6%)
Tom Reilly56.0%(48.6%)25.0%(28.3%)7.4%(14.8%)10.8%(8.0%)
So, why have Reilly, Galvin and Patrick been doing better? One reason that is readily obvious is that they're now doing about ten points better among registered Democrats than they have in previous polls. Again, I wonder if this is related more to how Romney and Healey are doing specifically, or how Republicans are seen generally here in Massachusetts. The Republican party has taken a lot of hits nationally, and it may be that self-described Democrats are now more reluctant to vote for (or admit voting for) someone of the opposite party. It could also be that the things that have been in the news lately -- in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and health care reform -- are issues that favor Democrats generally, at least in Massachusetts. Since the general election is still a year away, it may very well be that the general public has not yet focused in on the 2006 governor's race. It could be that at this early date, the biggest factor in the Romney and Healey reelect numbers is just their opponents' name recognition. That should be reassuring for the Democrats since name recognition can be increased fairly easily, as long as the candidate has enough money for media buys.