What? Charlie Baker, the embodiment of establishment Republicanism, is more popular among Boston voters than firebrand populist Elizabeth Warren?
That’s what it looks like at first blush in a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll released earlier this week. But a deeper dive into the numbers with the poll’s director shows the survey is less alarming for Warren and her fellow Democrats.
The survey, taken last week to test the mayor’s race, shows the GOP governor holding a 59 percent favorable rating, while 19 percent have an unfavorable view of Baker in the overwhelmingly Democratic city. Those are unusually strong numbers for a Republican political figure in a city that crushes GOP candidates — including Baker in two state elections.
Warren has barely the same level of popularity — nearly 57 percent in the poll — a low rating in a city that gives huge margins to Democratic candidates. Close to 28 percent of respondents viewed Warren unfavorably — 9 points more than Baker.
And when asked which of eight national political figures were their least favorite, 75 of the 500 respondents chose her, while only 4 chose US Senator Bernie Sanders. She ran second to Donald Trump, whom 291 respondents picked as their least favorite pol.
So what is happening?
David Paleologos, Suffolk’s director of the Political Research Center, says the polling sample — which screened for likely voters in the Nov. 7 municipal election — does not reflect who will vote in the 2018 election, when Warren will be on the ballot.
“What we are seeing in a municipal election like this is a turnout that is more elderly and less minority and less young people,’’ he said. “So absolutely, Baker would do better.”
Indeed, 33 percent of respondents in the poll said they were retired.
But there was a glimpse of good news for Warren and Democrats among the dominantly elderly/white voting sample. When asked who was their favorite of eight political names, she ran away with it, getting 152 respondents to choose her.
That’s important because Boston is critical to Democrats’ ability to overcome the Republican surges in GOP strongholds around the state. Democrats must run up the margin in the metro area to win statewide.
For example, Baker got some 31 percent of the Boston vote in 2014 — and that played a role in keeping the margin of his Democratic rival, Martha Coakley, down in an election that he won by a whisker. In 2010, when he lost to Governor Deval Patrick by 6 percent, Baker got only 23 percent of the Boston vote, thanks to in part to then-mayor Thomas M. Menino and his political machine.
The Suffolk/Boston Globe survey was conducted Oct. 19 to 21 and had a margin of error of plus/minus 4.4 percent.
Frank Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.