Frustrated Voters Turning on Patrick and State Government

3/25/2009

Gov. Deval Patrick is bearing the brunt of a frustrated electorate, with nearly half of registered voters polled – 49 percent – disapproving of his job performance, according to a 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll. Forty percent approved of the incumbent governor's performance.

Reelection outlook

Forty-seven percent of registered voters surveyed said that it is time to elect someone else as governor, while 34 percent said that Patrick deserves to be reelected.  The numbers have shifted somewhat from a June 2008 Suffolk University survey, when 41 percent said it was time to give someone else a chance, 39 percent said that Patrick deserved a second term, and 20 percent were undecided.

"All the major statistical indicators – favorability, job performance and electability – are looking bleak for Patrick," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University.  "The question is whether Governor Patrick can find bottom and rally back in time for the election next year."

The negative perceptions reflected on Beacon Hill in general:

  • 51 percent of respondents said the state is on the wrong track
  • 59 percent are not confident that state government will resolve the financial crisis
  • When asked whether they believe Massachusetts will again become "Taxachusetts," 71 percent said yes
  • 74 percent do not expect real reform on Beacon Hill this year

"The common thread throughout the survey is lost confidence," said Paleologos.  "The last two cycles at both the state and federal levels were fundamentally about voters' hunger for change. Now, in the run-up to 2010, voters are disappointed and frustrated.  The lost confidence from each survey answer signals challenging times for any incumbent officeholder."

Recall elections

Voters also supported the idea of recall elections by nearly a 3-1 margin.  Seventy-two percent favored adding a recall vote for removing elected officials perceived to be underperforming, while 25 percent did not, and 4 percent were undecided.

Eighteen states, including neighboring Rhode Island, permit the recall of state officials; Massachusetts is not one of them.

Taxation

The 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll showed some support (32 percent) for an increase in the sales tax to help solve the state's fiscal crisis. Twenty percent supported hiking the gas tax, and 12 percent favored raising the state income tax.  Twenty-nine percent said they do not favor raising any of these taxes.

Sixty-one percent of voters support casino gambling, while 34 percent opposed it. These figures are similar to results from an August 2008 Suffolk University poll, which showed 59 percent supporting casino gambling and 29 percent opposed.

Slot machine parlors were supported by a 50 percent-to-48 percent margin in the most recent poll.

Methodology

The 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll was conducted March 17 through March 20, 2009.  The margin of error on the statewide survey of 400 Massachusetts registered voters is +/- 4.90 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.  Marginals and 228 pages of cross-tabulation data will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 25. 

For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.

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