Why Charlie Will Win

In an odd display of journalism, the Boston Globe has released a poll which tells the truth about the race for governor of Massachusetts - explaining why Charlie Baker is going to win.

With just five weeks to the election, Republican Charles D. Baker has pulled even with Governor Deval Patrick in a gubernatorial race shaped by anti-incumbent sentiment and unusually high excitement among Republican voters, according to a new Boston Globe poll.

You'll recall that shortly before Scott Brown's election, the Globe issued a poll that seemed deliberately out of step with reality - claiming an impossible lead for Martha Coakley. In this case, they seem devoted to reflecting reality rather than attempting to shape it.

In the Globe poll, taken last week, Patrick, a Democrat, won support from 35 percent of likely voters, compared with 34 percent for Baker, a statistical tie given the poll’s margin of error. Cahill, the state treasurer who left the Democratic Party last year, continued to lag far behind with 11 percent. Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein got 4 percent, and 14 percent said they remain undecided.

But my favorite part of the Globe's presentation of the poll is this - that all circumstances point to a Republican victory in the race.

The poll indicates that voter turnout on Election Day will be key. The current trend favors Baker, because Republicans are much more enthusiastic about the election than Democrats. Some 78 percent of likely GOP voters say they are excited about the race, compared with only 37 percent of likely Democratic voters. Among the subset of 245 voters surveyed who said they were excited about the race, Baker beat Patrick, 52 to 25 percent.

“That spells trouble for Patrick,’’ he said.

“The energy in this election is certainly on the Republican side,’’ said Andrew E. Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducted the poll for the Globe.

That excitement is likely to drive Baker supporters to the polls, while Democrats could see a lower turnout than in past elections, Smith said.

Everything spells trouble for Deval except for the failure of the Baker campaign to effectively sell Charlie to the electorate. We can only hope they do a better job of this over the next few weeks. In the meantime, the key structural components of a GOP victory are in place. For example, 51% of Massachusetts voters are unenrolled, or independent.

Patrick’s appeal to unenrolled voters is perilously low. Only 24 percent of self-described independents have a favorable opinion of the governor, compared with 59 percent who view him unfavorably.

Baker’s strength appears to rest on his appeal to unenrolled, or independent, voters, who make up more than 50 percent of the electorate and often determine statewide races. Among registered independents, he leads Patrick 35 percent to 28 percent, with Cahill getting 13 percent.

The continued bad economy, the Globe points out, undermines Deval's attempts to put a happy face on improvements in the Massachusetts economy. A surprisingly frank assessment of electoral realities for their favored candidate from the Globe.