Republican Charlie Baker holds a four-point edge over Democrat Martha Coakley in the race for governor, according to a new poll that reinforces the perception of a tight contest breaking toward Baker in the final days of the campaign.
The UMass Lowell/7News poll released Monday night showed Baker leading Coakley 45 percent to 41 percent among likely voters, a five-point swing toward Baker since their August survey. The poll of 601 likely voters had a margin of error of 4.5 percent. Eight percent of likely voters were undecided.
Forty-two percent of likely voters think Baker has run a better campaign, compared to 29 percent who give Coakley the edge.
"The momentum is clearly with Baker," said pollster Joshua Dyck, co-director of the Center for Public Opinion at UMass Lowell. A Boston Globe/SocialSphere poll released last week and dismissed by the Coakley campaign as an "outlier" showed Baker ahead by 9 points.
The poll also found strong opposition to three of the four ballot questions to be decided on Nov. 4, with only Question 4 mandating earned sick leave for workers finding support among the electorate. Sixty percent support earned sick time, while 35 percent plan to vote no.
Fifty-four percent of likely voters said they opposed the ballot question seeking to repeal a law linking gas tax increases to inflation, compared to 40 percent in favor of repeal. Support for expanding the bottle deposit law to include water and non-carbonated beverages came in at 26 percent, with 72 percent opposed.
On Question 3 to repeal casino gambling, 60 percent said they would vote to keep casinos legal in Massachusetts, while 39 percent said they support repeal.
Independent candidates for governor Evan Falchuk, Jeffrey McCormick and Scott Lively received a combined 6 percent support in the UMass Lowell/7News poll.
Dyck, in a statement, noted Baker's favorability rating of plus 17 among voters is 10 points higher than Coakley's, with 52 percent having a favorable opinion of Baker compared to 35 percent unfavorable. When asked which candidate is more likeable, 50 percent of poll respondents chose Baker compared with 32 percent who chose Coakley.
"The shift in this race can be attributed to the fact that likely voters view Charlie Baker as more moderate, more independent-minded and more likeable than Martha Coakley," Dyck said.
Baker leads Coakley 51 percent to 36 percent among likely male voters, and trails Coakley among likely women voters by only eight points, according to the survey. Baker is also leading Coakley by 23 points among independent voters - the largest voting bloc - and is viewed as stronger on the economy by 53 percent to 33 percent.
Voters see Coakley as being stronger than Baker on education, an issue which Coakley has put at the center of her campaign, by a 48 percent to 35 percent margin.
Baker, on the stump, has emphasized his desire to bring two-party rule back to Beacon Hill, suggesting a Republican governor and Democrat-controlled Legislature will allow for the type of "constructive friction" that will benefit taxpayers.
Voters seem to agree. Sixty-five percent of respondents in the UMass Lowell poll said they preferred to have control divided between the parties, while just 20 percent preferred one-party rule.
Gov. Deval Patrick, who broke a string of 16 years of Republican gubernatorial leadership in 2006, is preparing to leave office with a 55 percent favorability rating among registered voters, compared to 36 percent unfavorable, the poll found.
President Barack Obama is viewed favorably by 53 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 41 percent.