New WBZ-TV-UMass Amherst Poll Shows Governor’s Race A Virtual Tie

By Jon Keller, WBZ-TV Political Analyst

BOSTON (CBS)  – The race for governor of Massachusetts remains a virtual tie.

According to a new WBZ-TV-UMass Amherst poll released Monday, Democrat Martha Coakley leads Republican Charlie Baker by one-percent, 41-to-40 among likely voters.

Read: October 2 Poll Results (.pdf)

The poll has a margin of error of 4.6-percent.

When leaners are added, Coakley leads by four points, 48-to-44 percent, among likely voters (with a margin of error of 5.5-percent).

The survey was conducted between September 26 and October 2.

A WBZ-UMass Amherst poll released one week ago found Baker leading Coakley by one percentage point in both categories.

“You get the sense that given how little people seem to know about the candidates and how ambivalent they seem to be, these debates are going to be really important,” said Brian Schaffner, director of the WBZ/UMass Amherst poll.

As the candidates prepare for Tuesday night’s first Boston TV debate at the WBZ studios, the poll shows the major party candidates have made some progress in shaping their images in voters’ minds.

Read: October 2 Poll Crosstabs (.pdf)

Fifty-eight percent believe the phrase “cares about people like me” best describes Coakley; only 42-percent say that fits Baker.

But the numbers are reversed on which candidate is best described as “willing to go against their own party on issues,” that’s 58-to-42 percent in Baker’s favor.

Baker is trusted more than Coakley to handle the economy and taxes, while Coakley is more trusted to handle health care and education.

But there is significant confusion among voters over where these candidates stand on key issues, a problem they may choose to address in Tuesday’s debate among the five candidates at WBZ-TV.

For instance, only 12-percent of voters believe Baker supports a woman’s right to choose an abortion, while only 14-percent knew that Coakley supports tax cuts for businesses to help spur job creation.

Another significant finding: for the first time, homeland security is showing up among the issues voters deem most important to their vote for governor.

Five candidates running for Mass. Governor. (WBZ-TV)

(WBZ-TV graphic)

All five candidates will meet Tuesday night, Oct. 7 from 7-to-8 p.m. in a freewheeling debate broadcast live by WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio 1030, CBSBoston.com, and C-Span.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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