BOSTON (CBS) – As Governor Charlie Baker passes the 100-day mark of his first term and moves to consolidate control over the MBTA, he has the force of public opinion at his back, according to statewide polling just released by the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

Read: Poll Results (.pdf)

The poll finds Baker is easily the most popular politician in Massachusetts right now, with 74-percent expressing a favorable view of him while only eight-percent hold an unfavorable opinion.

Read: Poll Tables (.pdf)

That is 15-points better than the next best numbers enjoyed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has a 59-to-11 percent favorable/unfavorable rating. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren is third with a 54-33 percent favorable/unfavorable rating.)

Baker’s job-approval ratings are just as strong, with a 70-6 percent approval/disapproval spread. And when asked if Baker is a better governor than Deval Patrick was, 42-percent said yes, while only 24-percent said no.

This leaves Baker in a strong bargaining position with the Democrat-controlled Legislature as he tackles the issues voters told the Suffolk pollsters were most important to them: the state budget (22-percent), jobs and the economy (16-percent), fixing the MBTA (11-percent), and taxes (seven-percent).

Only five-percent of those polled graded Baker’s performance so far below average; 49-percent termed it average, and 39-percent called it above average.

THE NUMBERS ARE ‘STAGGERING’

Baker’s approval numbers are “staggering,” pollster David Paleologos told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Wednesday.

He says pollsters are usually looking for results above 50-percent.

So why such good numbers? The winter likely had a huge impact.

“Record snowfall falls on Democrats, Republicans and independents equally, “ Paleologos said. “Managing it well, I think, is coming back to his benefit.”

“Polls are a snapshot in time and right now, this is Charlie Baker’s time.”

BOSTON 2024 OLYMPIC SUPPORT

On other issues of note, 43-percent of respondents said they supported the pending Boston bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, while 46-percent were opposed.

But if organizers accede to a requirement that no public funds be used for the Games, support for them jumps to 56-percent, with 37-percent still opposed.

TSARNAEV DEATH PENALTY

And as a federal jury hears testimony in the sentencing phase for convicted mass-murderer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, only 33-percent of those polled say they support capital punishment for him, with 58-percent instead backing life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

Read: I-Team: Life In SuperMax

Nonetheless, asked if they were on the jury and could cast the deciding vote for execution, a narrow plurality said they could do so, 47-to-45 percent.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports

Jon Keller

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