A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Bay State finds Deval Patrick (D) with 39% support, while Republican Charlie Baker picks up 34% of the vote. Democrat-turned-Independent candidate Tim Cahill continues to trail with 18%. One percent (1%) prefer some other candidate and eight percent (8%) are undecided.
The fluid nature of the race is highlighted by the fact that a large segment of the electorate is still open to changing their mind. Just 64% of Patrick’s supporters are certain that they will vote for him and won’t change their mind. Only 58% of Baker’s supporters are that certain. Not surprisingly, the level of certainty is lowest for the third party candidate—28% of Cahill’s supporters are sure they will end up voting for him.
As a result, when leaners are included, the race at the top becomes even closer—Patrick 44% Baker 42%, and Cahill 8%. Leaners are those who initially indicate no preference for either of the candidates but answer a follow-up question and say they are leaning towards a particular candidate. The approach anticipates the fact that support for third party candidates typically declines as Election Day draws near. This is the first Election 2010 survey in Massachusetts to include leaners.
Early in any campaign, the numbers without leaners are generally more significant. Later in a campaign, the numbers with leaners matter more. After Labor Day, Rasmussen Reports will report the numbers with leaners as the primary indicators of the campaign.
It is important to note that the percentage who say they’ll vote for someone other than the incumbent has held steady around the 50% mark all year. In the current survey, 52% say they’ll vote against Patrick when first asked while 50% say the same when leaners are included.
The survey of 500 Likely Voters in Massachusetts was conducted on September 1, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.