Monday, October 3, 2011

Obama’s ratings could damage Brown’s chances

President Obama’s approval ratings may be tanking in the rest of the country, but he’s still the most popular Democrat in Massachusetts — and that could make it tougher for Republican Sen. Scott Brown to keep his job.

A new UMass-Lowell/Boston Herald poll shows that 61 percent of registered voters in Massachusetts give him favorable marks, with just 34 percent viewing him unfavorably. But many Democratic-leaning voters are ambivalent about Obama, with one quarter saying they are dissatisfied with his administration’s policies.

Obama trounces former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a presidential election trial heat, according to the poll. The president is beating Romney by a 57-33 percent margin in Romney’s home state.

And if Texas Gov. Rick Perry wins the nomination, he probably shouldn’t be scheduling too many campaign stops in the Bay State. Obama holds a 62-25 percent lead over Perry among Massachusetts voters.

Democrats are counting on an Obama “coattail effect” in November 2012 to carry their Senate nominee to victory. Brown won in a special election with no other Democrat on the ballot.

“Whether Obama winds up helping or hurting his party’s Senate nominee here may depend on how well he turns out his base,” said Mike Mokrzycki, a consultant who produced the poll.

But harnessing those coattails may not be as easy as some Democrats think. Just 10 percent of all registered voters in the UMass-Lowell/Herald poll say they are “enthusiastic” about Obama’s policies, while 41 percent indicate they are “satisfied but not enthusiastic.” And 54 percent agree that Obama has “fallen short of expectations” as president, including 42 percent of Democratic-leaning voters.

“He’s done some good things and not so good things,” said an Arlington voter who took part in the UMass-Lowell/Herald poll. “He used a lot of political capital pushing health care.”

The poll also shows that Brown’s re-election chances could be hurt badly by his Republican colleagues in Congress. Nearly one in four Massachusetts voters describe themselves as “angry” at the policies of Republican leaders in Washington, while another 37 percent say they are “dissatisfied.”