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WNEU Poll Finds Candidates for Governor Locked in Tight Race

SPRINGFIELD — The latest survey from the Western New England University Polling Institute finds the race for governor of the Bay State to be a dead heat. Republican Charlie Baker leads Democrat Martha Coakley by one point among likely voters and also by one point among the larger sample of registered voters in the telephone survey, conducted Sept. 20-28. But the race is in flux, with 41% of likely voters who expressed a candidate preference saying they could change their minds before Election Day on Nov. 4.

The survey of 416 likely voters found Baker with support from 44%, while 43% said they would vote for Coakley if the election were held today. Independent candidates Evan Falchuk and Jeff McCormick each received backing from 2% of likely voters, and independent candidate Scott Lively won support from 1%. Another 7% said they are undecided. The margin of error for the sample of 416 likely voters is plus or minus five percentage points. The margin of error for the larger sample of 536 registered voters, which includes the likely-voter sample, is plus or minus 4%.

The results in the race for governor reveal a much closer contest than previous surveys from the Polling Institute, which found Coakley with a 20-point lead over Baker among registered voters last October, and a 29-point lead among registered voters in a survey conducted March 31 through April 7. Coakley, currently the state attorney general, and Baker, a former healthcare executive who served in the cabinets of two Republican governors, won their parties’ nominations in primary elections Sept. 9.

“With the campaign in full swing now, it is anybody’s race between the two frontrunners,” said Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute and a professor of political science at Western New England University.

The Polling Institute also asked voters about their preferences in the race for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Incumbent Democrat Ed Markey, who won the seat in a special election in June 2013 and is seeking a full six-year term in November, leads Republican Brian Herr, a former selectman from Hopkinton, by 22 points among likely voters, 56% to 34%.

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