State of the Commonwealth: A Public Opinion Primer

Some quick notes from recent polls in advance of Governor Patrick's final State of the Commonwealth address: Governor Patrick will be addressing a mostly happy crowd. While national polling suggests a sour mood about the direction of the country, Bay Staters are generally pleased with where the state is heading.  Our quarterly poll, to be released in full later this week, found strongly positive views of the direction of the state. The 24-point gap between “right direction” and wrong track” is the largest margin recorded since we began asking the question in 2010.

Right Dir

With DC brinksmanship ebbing, Massachusetts consumers are feeling more confident. Consumers have been on a wild ride over the last few years, mostly due to political battles in our nation’s capital.  Despite debt ceilings, fiscal cliffs, sequestration, and government shutdowns seemingly every few months, Massachusetts consumer confidence has bounced back after each budget battle. This quarter is no different. Governor Patrick will be addressing residents starting to feel their economic feet under them again.


Governor Patrick is still widely popular. His most recent numbers, from our WBUR poll last week, have come down somewhat from their April 2013 highs in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, but he still has numbers that would be the envy of many political leaders these days.

 Patrick Favs

That said, voters are aware of recent scandals, and have reservations about how they have been handled. Majorities in the WBUR poll are paying either somewhat or very close attention to problems at DCF (78%) and the state drug lab (74%). Voters are split on whether they approve (38 percent) or disapprove (37 percent) of how the Governor has handled these issues. Despite this, most voters still approve of the Governor’s job performance. With a 53/39 approve/disapprove ratio, the governor is clearly doing better in other areas important to voters.

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