Governor Charlie Baker remains enormously popular among Massachusetts residents who participated in a new online poll, in spite of a period of intense criticism over his handling of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
The survey by MassINC Polling Group, released Monday, found that 74 percent of respondents approved of the job the Republican is doing as governor, with 20 percent saying they disapprove.
The survey’s findings remain essentially the same as a MassINC poll conducted in December 2020, when Baker’s approval rating among those polled was 73 percent. A majority of those who responded also gave Baker high marks for his overall handling of the pandemic, with 71 percent saying they approve.
Since the December poll, Baker’s handling of the vaccination rollout has been marked by criticism. Seniors have found the state’s website difficult to navigate, while Massachusetts recently ranked in the bottom half of states in administering shots, and pressure has mounted from elected leaders and public health officials to prioritize communities of color in distributing the vaccine. Last week, as the poll was still being conducted, the state’s website crashed when appointments opened up to residents 65 and older or those with two or more health conditions.
The results of the poll are based on online responses taken from Feb. 9 to Feb. 21 from 1,308 Massachusetts residents.
Last month, Massachusetts was behind every other New England state and New York in the number of vaccine doses administered per capita, and on Feb. 1, the state ranked 34th among all 50 states, according to federal data. But the state has been steadily improving. On Monday, Massachusetts ranked 15th in the country in total doses administered per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite the state’s slow start, 54 percent of the poll’s respondents said they thought Massachusetts ranks “somewhere in the middle” among other states when it comes to vaccine distribution. Eleven percent said they thought the state is “among the fastest” while a quarter of those who responded said they thought Massachusetts was “among the slowest.”
The survey also found a majority of residents supported Baker’s decision earlier this month to increase capacity limits on restaurants, gyms, and other businesses from 25 percent to 40 percent. Sixty-seven percent of those polled said they supported the move while 27 percent said they opposed it.
Baker has long enjoyed high approval ratings and for years has ranked as the most popular governor in the United States, according to national surveys conducted by Morning Consult.