By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – There have been many ups and downs during the Massachusetts experience with COVID-19. But one thing has remained constant – sky-high approval ratings for Gov. Charlie Baker’s handling of the pandemic.

A new MassINC poll of nearly 800 registered voters here finds 81% approve of Baker’s crisis management. Only 14% disapprove.

You would think that 4.5 months of shutdowns, deaths and job losses would have left a mark on Baker, but that 81% is just a few points shy of his approval rating back in early May, even as other governors such as Gavin Newsom in California and Mike DeWine in Ohio have seen their once-high approval numbers drop into the 60s.

How is Baker doing it?

For starters, Massachusetts is proving relatively immune to the demands for quicker reopening that you’ve heard for months from the White House and local conservatives.

When voters were asked to assess the rate of reopening here, only 11% overall said Baker wasn’t moving quickly enough, although 31% of Republicans felt that way. Twenty-two percent felt the governor was reopening too quickly. But six in ten said he was handling it about right, including a plurality of Republicans.

The poll also sampled the presidential race, and predictably, it’s a wipeout, with Joe Biden beating President Trump by more than two to one. But one statistic jumped out at me: only one percent of Democrats say they’ll vote for Trump. But 15% of Republicans choose Biden. That’s four times the Republican vote Hillary Clinton got four years ago.

And if that kind of peel-off is duplicated in actual swing states, Biden could be headed for a landslide.

Jon Keller

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