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Coakley leads in Democratic primary race for governor, poll finds

Attorney General Martha Coakley continues to hold a wide lead over her four rivals for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, but would face a close race against Republican Charlie Baker in a hypothetical general election matchup, according to a new poll.

In the race for the Democratic nomination, Coakley had the support of 44 percent of likely primary voters, compared with 12 percent for state Treasurer Steve Grossman, who was the only other Democrat to crack double digits in the Boston Herald/Suffolk University poll.

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Donald Berwick was at 4 percent, Juliette Kayyem at 2.4 percent, and Joseph Avellone at 1.8 percent. Those three candidates are also in a tough race to garner enough support from delegates at this weekend’s Democratic state convention in Worcester to qualify for the September primary ballot.

Coakley was the only Democrat who would beat Baker in a hypothetical general election matchup, but her edge was narrow, according to the poll.

Respondents said they would pick Coakley over Baker, 36 percent to 29 percent. Baker would top the other four Democrats in potential November matchups, beating Grossman, his closest rival, by 27 percent to 24 percent.

The race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general is shaping up to be the tightest intraparty fight, according to the poll.

In that contest, Maura Healey, a former Coakley aide and first-time candidate, has a narrow edge over former state senator Warren Tolman, 21 percent to 18 percent. Still, 59 percent of voters said they were undecided.

The poll also showed that voters have turned against the legalization of casinos in Massachusetts.

About 47 percent of those polled said they disapproved of plans to bring casinos to the state, compared with 37 percent who approved.

That shift against gambling is potentially significant because casino opponents are hoping to place a referendum question on the November ballot that would repeal the state’s casino law. The Supreme Judicial Court is currently weighing whether their ballot question passes legal muster.

Michael Levenson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.
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