There's a new poll out today from Suffolk University and the Boston Herald, and while it deals mostly with the governor's race, the results provide some interesting findings on other topics. Here are a few that stand out.
Do you think Massachusetts is heading in the right direction or is on the wrong track?
Right direction: 48 percent
Wrong Track: 33 percent
Undecided: 19 percent
This is the kind of question that can be hard to analyze in the abstract. If 48 percent of voters think Massachusetts is heading in the right direction, is that a lot or a little? Compared with national polls, it's a lot. Nationwide, just 30 percent of people say the United States is heading in the right direction.
Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as President?
Approve: 45 percent
Disapprove: 44 percent
Undecided: 11 percent
Despite Massachusetts' liberal reputation, President Obama is not much more popular here than elsewhere. Nationwide, his approval rating is about 43 percent. The one big difference is that a lot of voters in Massachusetts remain undecided. For that reason, the number who actively disapprove of Obama is far smaller than the national average, 44 percent here compared with 53 percent overall.
For lieutenant governor there are up to four candidates . . . At this point would you lean toward Chueng, DeRosa, Kerrigan, or Lake?
Undecided: 85 percent
Just 3 of every 20 likely voters have a preference in the lieutenant governor's race. The other 17 aren't even leaning toward a candidate. And that's in spite of the fact these are all likely voters and that 60 percent of them said they were following the governor's race either very closely or somewhat closely. It's impossible to tell from the poll whether that's because these candidates can't break through to voters, or because voters aren't yet interested in this race.
Overall, do you approve or disapprove of plans to locate gambling casinos in Massachusetts?
Approve: 37 percent
Disapprove: 47 percent
Undecided: 15 percent
Nearly half of all likely voters say they are opposed to building casinos in Massachusetts. If this holds, it may actually derail the whole casino process. A group called "Repeal the Casino Deal" has been fighting for a ballot initiative, which means that come November voters like the ones polled here may have the opportunity to decide whether to go ahead with casino gambling or not.
These were just side questions in a poll mostly focused on the governor's race. Sometimes, though, it's the side questions that provide the most information.
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Evan Horowitz digs through data to find information that illuminates the policy issues facing Massachusetts and the U.S. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHorowitz