ICYMI: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s Popularity Takes a Nosedive, Endangering His Chances At Re-election
“His magic carpet ride really is probably over.”
With a fraction of the funds he had in 2018, plummeting popularity, pitiful support among Republicans, and weeks of failing to stand up a statewide vaccination program, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has dropped like a lead balloon and his chances of re-election are going down with him.
New polling from WCVB/UMass-Amherst shows Baker’s popularity has taken a nosedive – his approval rating has dropped by 26 points, and members of his own party only gave him a 38% approval rating.
Baker has come under fire for completely botching the state’s vaccine rollout, including a controversial program allowing anyone who claims to be a caregiver and accompanies an elderly person to get a vaccine – a policy which led to a mad rush of disturbing scams offering cash to seniors.
Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker writes Baker’s difficulties managing the pandemic have “exposed an administration that doesn’t listen to enough voices, or plan and coordinate as well as widely assumed, and whose self-assurance makes it lousy at correcting course when things clearly aren’t working.”
Baker’s sinking approvals could hurt his chances in upcoming elections, and could send other Massachusetts Republicans crashing down with him.
Read more about Baker’s plummeting popularity below.
Boston Globe: Charlie Baker’s charmed political life has hit a snag
Remember when Massachusetts loved Charlie Baker?
Not long ago at all — but also, a pandemic ago — people in this state thought they had landed on the ideal governor: a strong steward of the machinery of state government, not progressive certainly, but moderate enough, a steady hand on the wheel. His approval ratings were the stuff of politicians’ dreams.
Now, not so much.
A newly released poll conducted by WCVB-TV and UMass-Amherst showed a precipitous decline in the governor’s popularity. The percentage of people who approved of his performance has dropped from 78 percent in August to 52 percent now. Baker’s popularity dropped across all demographic groups, the pollsters say, with a 38 percent approval rating among his fellow Republicans.
Maybe none of this is as shocking as it might seem at first glance.
Baker’s glow began to fade when the second surge began to drive the numbers up. An early sign of what was in store for him came with the constant confusion over how to handle school openings, an issue that left almost no one happy.
The arrival of a vaccine was supposed to make everything better. Baker has made the point that Massachusetts and other states did not get adequate supplies of the vaccine. Getting access to the doses became a nightmare, while issues of equity were never adequately addressed.
The irony here, of course, is that Baker’s success was all built on the notion that he was a great manager. So something like managing a vaccine rollout should have just shown what he can do, right?
Maybe it has.
Predictably, Team Baker immediately responded to the poll by shrugging it off.
It’s reasonable to argue that Baker’s approval ratings of last summer weren’t sustainable. But I don’t think this is just a blip for Baker. The management woes exposed by the last stage of the pandemic go right to the heart of what is supposed to be his armor, his skill at running the government.
It’s exposed an administration that doesn’t listen to enough voices, or plan and coordinate as well as widely assumed, and whose self-assurance makes it lousy at correcting course when things clearly aren’t working.
The political dynamics have changed too, with the new administration in Washington. Where former President Donald Trump largely left governors to figure things out on their own, the new administration is doing much more to shape the agenda. From reopening schools to picking up the pace on vaccinations, governors like Baker are being pushed in a way they weren’t before.
But his magic carpet ride really is probably over. A great truism of government is that anyone can manage in good times; hard times and the hard decisions that they bring, are the real test.
Baker has not failed that test; far from it. But a lot of voters have fallen out of love with him, and they won’t be easy to woo back.