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Globe poll shows Baker pulling ahead in Guv’s race

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

By Matt Murphy

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE — Republican Charlie Baker could be pulling away from Democrat Martha Coakley in the race for governor with the latest Boston Globe poll showing voters breaking for the second-time candidate in the final stretch of the contest.

The poll, conducted for the Globe by SocialSphere, shows Baker with a nine-point lead over his Democratic rival just one week after the same survey showed the two major party candidates deadlocked at 41 percent.

Baker led with 45 percent to Coakley’s 36 percent, in the new poll released early Thursday evening.

The Globe poll is not the first to show momentum gathering behind Baker’s candidacy, but it is the most dramatic, indicating that Baker’s lead may have extended outside the 4.4 percent margin of error.

A WBUR/MassINC tracking poll released Wednesday showed a three-point swing toward Baker giving the Republican his first lead in that survey, albeit by one point.

Baker and Coakley are scheduled to debate Thursday night in Chicopee, with two more televised one-on-one debates on tap for next week. The Globe poll was taken before Tuesday’s debate on WGBH between the two candidates.

Outside groups have also been spending heavily in the race for governor, led by the Republican Governors Association, which has put over $8 million into a pro-Baker super PAC ad campaign.

Coakley plans to campaign Friday in Boston with Hillary Clinton in an attempt to energize the Democratic base, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten will be in Massachusetts with Coakley and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Saturday.

Unions could be a key to helping Democrats drive up turnout on Election Day, and Weingarten’s visit comes after a small spat between Coakley and Massachusetts Teachers Association over supportive comments Coakley made about charter schools.

Coakley has spent much of the past week try to draw a contrast between herself and Baker by talking about her regional economic development strategy and plans to invest in mental health and early education, while also painting the Republican as a number cruncher who doesn’t see the people behind the budget line items.

The Medford Democrat has hit Baker over his record of protecting local jobs while CEO of Harvard Pilgrim and raised questions about a pay-to-play investigation in New Jersey involving a donation Baker made to the Republican Party and that state’s pension investment with a company – General Catalyst – for whom Baker worked.

Baker, meanwhile, has been campaigning hard in urban communities typically written off by Republicans, appearing with supportive Democrats and minority community leaders to discuss his “urban agenda,” including community policing, more charter school choice and smarter incarceration policies.

He has pushed back against the notion raised by Coakley that he cares more about the bottom line than people, and pushed his management experience and plans to create jobs without raising taxes.

He has also questioned the attorney general’s judgment for not doing more to disclose the ties between her campaign’s finance co-chair Elyse Cherry and a lawsuit filed by the attorney general against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That suit, dismissed on Tuesday by a federal court judge, would have forced the federal lending agencies to participate in a foreclosure prevention program run by Cherry’s Dudley Square non-profit Boston Community Capital.

Independents Evan Falchuk, Jeffrey McCormick and Scott Lively are also running in race for governor. The three non-party candidates captured a combined 7 percent in the Globe poll, with Falchuk leading among the three at 3 percent. Eleven percent of voters surveyed remain undecided.

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