The Democrat with the best chance to beat Governor Charlie Baker next year is . . . not running against Charlie Baker.
So says a new poll, which pits Baker against four Democrats and confirms the fears of many party activists. Only Attorney General Maura Healey, who has repeatedly insisted she is running for reelection in 2018, drags Baker under the magic 50-percent line.
And Healey, at 36 percent, would still lose to Baker, at 48 percent, according to the new WBUR/MassINC poll.
Other Democrats — those who have declared their candidacies — don’t fare as well against the Republican incumbent, who has not formally announced his reelection bid but has embarked on a summer fund-raising spree in preparation for November 2018.
Newton Mayor Setti Warren performs best of the three, garnering 26 percent to Baker’s 53 percent in the survey. Environmental activist and entrepreneur Robert K. Massie earns 25 percent to the governor’s 55 percent. Former Patrick administration budget chief Jay Gonzalez collects 22 percent against Baker’s 55 percent.
Sixty-four percent of voters — including 57 percent of Democrats — view Baker favorably. Fifteen percent — including 18 percent of Democrats — see him unfavorably.
Baker has told fund-raisers privately he must draw about one in three Democrats to win a second term in 2018. Matched against Healey, he receives support from 28 percent of Democrats. Against the other three, he beats his mark.
A key question for Baker, said MassINC Polling Group president Steve Koczela: “Can he hold onto that, given that they’re all basically completely unknown?”
“This poll suggests that not all the people that have a positive view of him or approve of the job he’s doing will end up voting for him,” Koczela said.
Other Democrats — including US Representatives Katherine Clark, Joseph P. Kennedy III, and Seth Moulton — have also indicated they are not interested in running for the corner office next year.
Two questions on tax-related measures that could be headed for the 2018 ballot drew even more lopsided responses.
Eighty-one percent of those surveyed said they would support “increasing the state’s income tax on any income over one million dollars and using that money to pay for education and transportation.” Of those, 61 percent said they felt strongly about it. Overall support for the measure, which the Legislature recently approved for the 2018 ballot, ticked up four points from a January poll.
Lowering the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent, another potential ballot question, also earned rave reviews, winning 62 percent support in the poll. Twenty-eight percent said they opposed that measure.
Like Baker, Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren appears to be on a glide path to a second term. Matched against two prospective Republican challengers, Warren posted 60 percent to state Representative Geoff Diehl’s 29 percent and 61 percent to Shiva Ayyadurai’s 25 percent. Diehl and Ayyadurai had a low level of name recognition in the survey. Seventy-five percent said they had never heard of Diehl, and 86 percent said the same of Ayyadurai.
“None of the people who have actually said that they’re going to run against either Warren or Baker is all that well known yet,” Koczela said.
The poll was conducted June 19 to June 22 and surveyed 504 registered voters. It carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com.