Baker Expands Lead in Potential Gubernatorial Matchup with Healey, According to New UMass Amherst / WCVB Poll

The Massachusetts attorney general appears to be the only serious general election threat to a third term for Baker, should he choose to run again in 2022

Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at

AMHERST, Mass. – Gov. Charlie Baker has opened up a six-point lead over Attorney General Maura Healey in a theoretical matchup of the 2022 gubernatorial general election race, according to a new statewide University of Massachusetts Amherst / WCVB Poll released today. The 33-27 lead doubles the three-point advantage Baker held in a March UMass Amherst/WCVB Poll over Healey, the only Democrat surveyed who poses a competitive threat to the Republican incumbent.

According to the poll of 750 Massachusetts residents conducted Nov. 9-16, Baker leads Healey in nearly all non-partisan demographics, including men, women, both whites (32-30) and people of color (34-16), all respondents with income below $100,000, all respondents with less than a postgraduate degree education and respondents over age 30. Healey leads voters age 18-29 by eight points (26-18, with 56% uncommitted), voters with a postgrad education by 10 points (40-30, with 31% uncommitted) and is tied with Baker, 31-31, among respondents with incomes above $100,000.

The sitting governor, whose popularity across party lines was reflected in results from the poll released yesterday, actually garners support from nearly a quarter (23%) of Democratic voters and one in eight (12%) ideological liberals in a head-to-head contest with Healey, while 37% of Democrats and 35% of liberals say they are either unsure or would not vote in the match-up.

tatishe nteta
UMass Amherst associate professor of political science Tatishe Nteta

“If Baker decides to run for a third term, he will be once again on track to garner substantial support from groups that have historically supported the Democratic Party,” says Tatishe Nteta, associate professor of political science at UMass Amherst and director of the poll. “Baker, in head-to-head matchups with his potential Democratic opponents, is the preferred choice of people of color, women, college educated and middle class voters. If Maura Healey is thinking about challenging Baker in 2022, she will need to get her own house in order as close to a quarter of Democrats in the state intend to vote for Baker in a head-to-head matchup with her.”

Overall, 30% of the poll’s respondents are undecided between Baker and Healey, and 11% indicate that they would not vote if Baker and Healey are the two candidates. Nearly every demographic of respondents report more than one-third indicating such indecision or apathy, including 50% of people of color and more than half (57%) of independents.

Asked about other potential Democratic challengers to Baker, the poll’s respondents indicated that no other competitor comes close to Healey in putting up a fight to the incumbent. State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz trails Baker by 19 points and is the only opponent who polls above 15% support (35-16, with 41% unsure). Meanwhile, Danielle Allen, former state Sen. Ben Downing and Orlando Silva carry 12%, 11% and 9% support, respectively.

If Baker Demurs, and Polito Gets the Nod

Should Baker choose not to run for a third term, however, Healey becomes the early favorite if Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito receives the GOP nomination. Among the poll’s respondents, Healey leads Polito, 32-18, with 40% unsure and 10% indicating they would abstain from voting. The poll indicates that Polito may have her hands full with the other lesser-known potential Democratic challengers, as well, managing just 21% support against each of Chang-Diaz (21-19), Allen (21-17), Downing (21-15) and Silva (21-14).

Jesse Rhodes
UMass Amherst professor of political science Jesse Rhodes

“If Governor Baker decides not to run for a third term, things change dramatically,” says Jesse Rhodes, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and associate director of the poll. “In an open race, voters tend to revert to partisanship and ideology in deciding how to vote. In this case, Democrats, and particularly Attorney General Healey, have significant advantages.”

Ballot Initiative and Election Proposals

The poll also asked respondents about three proposed ballot initiatives and a number of possible election reforms that may come into play in 2022.

More than half of all respondents support a proposal to require photo ID at polling places (55-34), including 62% of people of color, and a proposal to classify drivers for rideshare and delivery companies as independent contractors and establishing minimum compensation for their work garners a plurality of support, 44-21.

Ray La Raja
UMass Amherst professor of political science Raymond La Raja

“Voters tend to prefer reforms that make it easier to vote, but on one topic, they clearly disagree with Democratic leadership and reform activists,” says Raymond La Raja, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and associate director of the poll. “They think showing an ID makes sense, with 55% voters supporting it against 34% opposed. This includes a key Democratic constituency – people of color – who appear to favor this measure even more.”

The third proposed ballot initiative – to end the state’s ban on happy hour promotions at bars and restaurants – appears to be a true electoral miracle: nearly identical numbers of Democrats (47%) and Republicans (49%), liberals (50%) and conservatives (53%), Biden voters (48%) and Trump voters (50%) express support for the proposal.

“Happy hour is a controversial issue in Massachusetts where temperance movements since the 19th century have tried to cut back on drinking alcohol and its negative effects,” La Raja explains. “It’s been push and pull ever since. Voters seem to like happy hour — 46% to 25% favor it. Some may not be surprised that gender matters, but men are especially big backers of this proposal.”

The other proposed electoral reforms of which the poll asked all garnered solid majority – if not as thoroughly bipartisan – support, as well. Making Election Day a national holiday (68-21), making vote-by-mail a permanent option to all registered voters (64-32), allowing people to register to vote and cast their ballot on Election Day (65-28) and allowing election officials to automatically mail absentee ballot applications to all voters (56-35) were all viewed favorably by the poll’s respondents.

“Although Massachusetts residents strongly support reforms to make voting easier overall, there are pretty stark partisan and ideological divides,” Rhodes says. “This reflects national trends, in which Democrats and Republicans, particularly in the era of Trump, have polarized over whether to make voting harder or more convenient.”


This University of Massachusetts Amherst / WCVB Poll of 750 residents of Massachusetts was conducted by YouGov Nov. 9-16. YouGov interviewed 773 respondents statewide who were then matched down to a sample of 750 to produce the final dataset. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race and education. The frame was constructed by stratified sampling from the full 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) one-year sample with selection within strata by weighted sampling with replacements, using the person weights on the public use file.

The matched cases were weighted to the sampling frame using propensity scores. The matched cases and the frame were combined and a logistic regression was estimated for inclusion in the frame. The propensity score function included age, gender, race/ethnicity and years of education. The propensity scores were grouped into deciles of the estimated propensity score in the frame and post-stratified according to these deciles.

The weights were then post-stratified on 2016 and 2020 Presidential vote choice, and a four-way stratification of gender, age (4-categories), race (4-categories) and education (4-categories) to produce the final weight.

The margin of error within this poll is 4.3%.

Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at