Latest Political Research Center Poll

10/12/2006

Healey’s Attacks Soften Patrick’s Image on Crime, But She Still Trails

With less than four weeks remaining until the Final Election, Republican nominee Kerry Healey (33%) has closed to within 13% of frontrunner Democratic nominee Deval Patrick (46%), according to a 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll released today.  Independent Christy Mihos (7%) and Green Rainbow nominee Grace Ross (1%) were far behind.  There were 12% of likely voters undecided.

The new poll measures the impact over the past week of Healey's tough campaign ads, and her focus on Patrick's legal work for convicted criminals.

The ads have apparently resonated with women and have helped Healey close the gender gap, which has been a traditional weakness for her.  For example, in last week’s 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll, Patrick led Healey by 37% (57%-20%), but that lead has now been shaved to 20% (50%-30%) among women.  As for Independents, Patrick’s 13% lead (44%-31%) last week, is now a statistical tie at 38% for both Patrick and Healey.

"It appears that the Healey campaign is working Independent households," said David Paleologos, Director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.  "The recent news stories and attack ads have caused Independents to take a second look at the race."

When likely voters were asked if Deval Patrick is soft on crime, 32% said "yes," 41% indicated "no," and 27% were undecided.  That contrasts with 7NEWS-Suffolk University poll of a week ago when only 17% said "yes," 45% indicated "no," and 37% were undecided, a net change of 19%.  The most dramatic difference in this question was among Independents who said Deval Patrick is soft on crime by a 37%-36% margin.  A week ago, only 19% of Independents said that Patrick was soft on crime, while 41% indicated he was not.

"Deval Patrick has lost some ground by appearing to be soft on crime," said Paleologos. "The knee-jerk reaction by some undecided voters between last week and this week was to move to Healey, but ultimately there aren’t enough undecided voters remaining to make up the difference."

A whopping 86% of likely voters were aware of the news stories linking Deval Patrick to convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer, while just 10% were not aware.

The 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll also reveals that Patrick’s popularity has been tarnished somewhat (-10%) by Healey's onslaught of attack ads.  Last week, Patrick’s favorability rating was 55% favorable-24% unfavorable.  Today, his popularity is 50% favorable-31% unfavorable.

However, the type of campaign Healey has run may not get her into the corner office.  When asked if the recent tone of the Kerry Healey campaign made respondents more or less likely to vote for her, 22% indicated more likely, 53% less likely, and 25% said no difference.

"Aggression has a price," stated Paleologos. "Voters are still unhappy with the Healey tone and with the direction of the state.  In the end, people still view Healey unfavorably which makes winning difficult."

In other poll findings, 53% of likely voters indicated that Massachusetts was going in the wrong direction, while just 28% indicated the right direction.  This was the highest wrong direction number recorded over the past two years. Among ballot questions, voters support the sale of wine by food stores (Ballot Question #1) by a 50%-41% margin. 

Finally, Deval Patrick continues to win the perception game. When asked, regardless of who you’re voting for, who do you think will be the next of Governor of Massachusetts, 60% said Patrick, while just 19% indicated Healey.  Last week, the numbers were similar when 61% said Patrick, while 21% indicated Healey.

The Suffolk University poll was conducted October 10 thru October 11, 2006.  The margin of error is +/- 4.9% at a 95% level of confidence.  All 400 Massachusetts likely voters indicated they were registered and that they were certain or may vote on November 7.

Suffolk University is scheduled to release 46 pages of cross-tabulation data, marginals, and charts on its website on Friday, October 13, 2006 after Channel 7NEWS has completed all of its broadcasts.  For more information, please contact Suffolk adjunct professor David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.

Suffolk University, located on Boston’s historic Beacon Hill, with campuses in Madrid, Spain and Dakar, Senegal (Africa), is a comprehensive global institution distinguished by its teaching and the intellectual contributions of its faculty.  Suffolk offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 70 areas of study.  Its mission is to provide quality education at a reasonable cost for students of all ages and backgrounds, with strong emphasis on diversity.  Suffolk has a combined enrollment of more than 8,300 full-time and part-time students at its Law School, College of Arts and Sciences and Sawyer School of Management.

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