At first glance, it seemed crazy: Governor Charlie Baker’s popularity with voters had gone from historical highs to the ridiculous.
But then there was an explanation.
A recent statewide poll by Princeton Research Associates found earlier this month that Baker’s favorability rating hit 84 percent and his job approval was at 85 percent. Generally his highest favorability ratings has topped off in the low 70 percent range. These latest figures seemed impossible in this heavily Democratic state.
The survey, however, was taken when the news was churning in a frenzy of gushing headlines over the state’s luring General Electric to locate its headquarters in Boston, with Baker playing a key role.
The poll surveyed 605 so-called “super voters” — keen observers of politics and government — who disagree with Baker on some of the potential ballot questions for the fall election.
Baker is adamantly against any tax increases, but 53 percent of those surveyed want to raise the income tax on all earnings over $1 million. That issue, which requires a change in the state Constitution, appears headed to 2018 ballot.
The governor is a big advocate for raising the cap on the number of charter schools that can be established in the state. But that proposal loses 45 percent to 41 percent (within the margin of error). That issue could be on this year’s ballot.
Princeton Associate’s pollster, Lou DiNatale, said the huge jump in Baker’s popularity in the firm’s polling was at first glance unsettling, making him think twice about the other findings. But he quickly became convinced the Baker spike is directly related to the GE news. The three-day survey began Jan. 14, the day the announcement led the newspapers and dominated the news cycle for several days.
“Obviously that spiked the Baker numbers,’’ he said. “He has been the most popular governor in the country and has broken records for keeping them that high for a whole first year. But these recent ones are artificially high and it has to be tied to the GE announcement.’’
‘’However, the referenda questions, on the 2016 and 2018 ballots are not slam-dunks for either side, and the outcome, for all political leaders, could be significant if they are on the losing sides,’’ he said.