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The Governor’s Race – By the Numbers

Posted on September 19, 2014

Democrat Martha Coakley must win the female vote by at least 10 points and lose the independent vote by fewer than 22 points to become governor, while Republican Charlie Baker must win independents by more than 22 points and also attract 17 percent of Democrats, Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos said today.

paleologos.good.smallThe director of the university’s Political Research Center told the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Executive Forum that the race for Massachusetts governor will be affected by gender demographics, the performance of three third-party candidates, a rising population of independent voters, and widespread apathy among the electorate.

Paleologos based many of his observations on the nationally recognized polling that Suffolk did for the 2010 Coakley-Scott Brown Senate race and the subsequent 2012 race between Brown and Elizabeth Warren. With woman expected to make up 53 percent of those expected to vote in the 2014 gubernatorial election, Coakley must do better than the 5 percent gap she posted over Brown with female voters in 2010.

Meanwhile, registered independents have gone from 44 percent of the electorate in 1990 to 54 percent today, according to Paloeologos, while the percentage of registered Democrats has dropped from 43 percent to 35 percent during the same period. Brown beat both Coakley and Warren by double digits among independent voters.

“Martha coakley will win women on election day. The question is by how many and what will the difference be between what she wins women by and what she loses men by?” Paleologos told more than 250 business executes at the Forum.

He later added, “Charlie Baker will win independents on election day. The question is by how many?”

The growing prominence of independents may also allow third-party candidates Jeff McCormick, Evan Falchuck and Scott Lively to swing the balance of a close race for governor, Paleologos said. Third-party candidate drew 5.2 percent of the vote in the 2002 gubernatorial election, and that percentage rose to 9.5 percent by 2010.

The election is likely to be played out against a backdrop of low turnout, perhaps approaching 50 percent. The ballot question on casino gaming may drive some voters, Paleologos said, but he also noted that 53 percent of state senators and 61 percent of state representatives are running unopposed.