The Topline: Massachusetts voters OK with Romney Senate run in Utah

Massachusetts has a long history of exporting political candidates. The small, solidly blue state has produced an outsized number of presidents and presidential candidates, and more than our fair share of Johns (Adams, Quincy Adams, Kennedy, and Kerry). Massachusetts politicians have been major party candidates for president nine times. In 2016, the Commonwealth was represented on multiple third-party presidential tickets, by Jill Stein and Bill Weld. Speculation for 2020 includes Elizabeth Warren, Deval Patrick, and even Seth Moulton.

And so when Utah Senator Orrin Hatch announced his retirement, all eyes turned to one of those Massachusetts presidential aspirants, Willard Mitt Romney, to mount his show horse Rafalca and fly into the fray. The conventional wisdom is that Romney would win Hatch’s seat easily if he decides to run, an effort Hatch himself has said he will support.

According to our latest WBUR poll, Romney also has the blessing of voters here in Massachusetts, a state he governed for a term in the 2000s. A majority (54 percent) of voters think it would be a good idea if Romney runs in Utah; 29 percent think his running would be a bad idea.

These figures represent a possible return to the voters’ good graces for Romney, who lost Massachusetts by 23 points to Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. A WBUR poll from October of that year found that 54 percent of likely voters had an unfavorable view of Romney. Those poor numbers may have been fueled by the perception that Romney had sought to downplay his time leading the Commonwealth while seeking the Republican nomination. Voters here support the health care law he helped engineer, and saw his changing positions on this and other issues as opportunism rather than principle.

Massachusetts voters were less sanguine when former Senator Scott Brown decamped to New Hampshire in an attempt to return to the Upper Chamber. A March 2014 WBUR poll found Massachusetts more divided about Brown’s plans, with 40 percent saying it was a good idea and 31 percent a bad idea. That was less than 2 years after Brown was defeated by Elizabeth Warren in 2012. In Romney’s case, more time has passed. Perhaps Massachusetts voters will warm up to Brown if he considers another run for office after his term spreading goodwill as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.

It’s not every state that can compare multiple waves of polling on former political leaders running for Senate in other states. But here in Massachusetts, aspiring politicians are a key export. For now, Massachusetts voters are OK with Romney changing his Twitter location from Massachusetts to Utah. So go for it Mitt, but if it’s a road trip out West, please keep the dog inside the car this time.

MPG ICYMI

Speaking of Rafalca, The Horse Race is back in the saddle and moving up a day! Catch season 2 on Thursday mornings, starting with zesty numbers for Baker, Warren, and Trump; a status report on 2018’s major races; and a brief look at what’s next for the ballot questions.

Also yesterday, we officially launched a whole new line of business. It’s called MPG Media, and it provides digital storytelling services (photography, videography, digital communications and social media) to clients in the private, public, and social-service sectors. It’s being led by Llyr Johansen, who came to MassINC from Hollywood in 2015 and has worked wonders on social media for the think tank, MPG, and CommonWealth. You can read more about MPG Media here.

Our first WBUR poll of 2018 found that one year into the Trump administration, voters think the impact has been worse than they anticipated. Here’s what voters had to say when asked about their impressions of Trump.

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Locally, Gov. Charlie Baker continues to hold immense popularity with a 74 percent approval rating. The MBTA also received improved marks in the wake of the storm, with 45 percent of respondents saying it has done a better job handling this year’s winter than in seasons past.

The poll also dug into issues of sexual assault and harassment across the state, with 21 percent of respondents reporting receiving unwanted sexual advances or harassment at work. Among women, that number jumps to 33 percent, and among women under the age of 50, it rises to 37 percent.

Steve has a new piece up on CNN about how Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission eroded confidence in electoral system, fueling efforts to curtail ballot access. You can read his first story on the subject here.

The Crosstabs

The latest aggregation from FiveThirtyEight puts Trump’s approval rate at 39.3 percent, disapproval at 54.5 percent.

Gallup announced last week it will change its presidential approval tracker from daily updates to weekly. The change reflects an industry-wide struggle - telephone polls are expensive.

In response to the news, CNN interviewed their in-house polling guru Jennifer Agiesta on what the change indicates about the economics of polling.

As Politico’s Steve Shepard notes, Gallup’s decision leaves Rasmussen, which has tended to be more favorable towards Trump, as the only outfit tracking presidential approval on a daily basis.

Then again, Rasmussen found that Oprah would beat Trump 47-37 in a hypothetical 2020 match-up.

Meanwhile, Oprah trails Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders but leads Elizabeth Warren in a four-way 2020 Democratic primary. (Pro-tip: This is fun, but none of it matters. It’s way too early.)

An Economist/YouGov poll finds that 70 percent of Republicans think President Trump is more honest and trustworthy than Steve Bannon, with whom Trump split in the wake of a new tell-all book.

Quinnipiac found that two-thirds of voters think the economy is “excellent” or “good,” but more voters credit Obama (49 percent) than Trump (40 percent).

Quinnipiac also found majority support for legalizing marijuana (58 percent) and allowing the so-called “Dreamers” to remain in the U.S. (79 percent).

Monmouth finds that 81 percent of Americans think the founding fathers would be upset with how government is working today.

The Rutgers-Eagleton poll has Chris Christie’s unfavorables at 68 percent at the end of his tenure, making him the most unpopular New Jersey governor on record.

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And finally, some say that puns are the lowest form of humor, but YouGov finds they are pretty popular. And that opunion grows with education; three-quarters of Americans with a post-graduate degree think they’re punny. A surprising 31 percent of respondents were punsure of how they felt. Yeah, we’ll...ummm….see ourselves out.

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