Poll Claims Voters Souring on Healey, Driscoll


The mood of Massachusetts voters has soured in the last year as pocketbook issues remain top of mind early in the 2024 election year, a Retailers Association of Massachusetts survey found.

Less than half of Massachusetts residents think the state is on the right track -- 48 percent, down from 59 percent when the same survey was conducted a year ago -- and 39 percent say the Bay State is headed in the wrong direction, a 10-percentage-point increase in the last year. Still, 61 percent of respondents said they were somewhat or very confident about the current state of the Massachusetts economy. The online survey of 600 registered voters was conducted by Andover-based Polity Research Consulting between April 17 and April 22, and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The results show that basic issues like the cost of living, the affordability of health care, access to housing and the economy generally are most important in voters' minds, while things like climate change, diversity and equity, and business competitiveness land further down the priority totem pole among the issues polled. RAM commissioned the poll in advance of a Wednesday lobbying day at the State House, at which RAM, the local chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and Massachusetts Restaurant Association host lawmakers and staff to promote policies favorable to small business.

Eighty percent of respondents said the cost of living in Massachusetts was a "very important" issue for them, the highest percentage of any of 12 issues polled. Health care costs were "very important" to 72 percent of respondents, followed by the economy/jobs and the cost/availability of housing each being given significance by 68 percent. Most of the Bay Staters polled (54 percent) said they were "very likely" to stay in Massachusetts long-term with another 28 percent reporting they are "somewhat likely" to remain here.

"Voters are also consumers and sales and operating margins for small businesses on Main Street are directly related to consumer confidence, the cost of living and disposable income for our families across the state. Consumers clearly have many of the same priorities and concerns as small businesses across the Commonwealth, that the costs of goods, energy, healthcare, housing, and taxes are all currently too high," RAM President Jon Hurst said.

RAM's survey specifically asked voters about organized retail crime, defined for poll participants as "coordinated groups of people shoplifting large amounts of merchandise from retail stores." Seventy-two percent of voters said they think it is either a "very serious" (33 percent) or "somewhat serious" (39 percent) problem in Massachusetts.

The RAM survey also touched upon a number of hot topics on Beacon Hill:

  • Pessimism has extended into how voters think of some of the elected officials most often in the news. In the year since RAM's April 2023 poll, voters have taken less favorable views of Gov. Maura Healey, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. Healey's "favorable" rating dropped from 60 percent in April 2023 to 54 percent in April 2024, while her "unfavorable" percentage has climbed from 21 percent to 32 percent. For Driscoll, the percentage of voters viewing her favorably has fallen from 40 percent to 33 percent while the share of voters with an unfavorable opinion has risen from 15 percent to 24 percent. And Wu went from having 53 percent of voters view her favorably to 47 percent, with an unfavorable rating of 31 percent versus 22 percent a year ago.
  • Voters' attitudes on Beacon Hill's spending appear split. While 34 percent said that state government spends too much money, 31 percent said the state spends about the right amount and 22 percent said Beacon Hill does not spend enough.
  • Unsurprisingly, voters favor cuts to the state's 6.25 percent sales tax (56 percent) and to local property taxes (59 percent), but support for changes to the state's 5 percent income tax rate was far more muted. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said the income tax rate should be cut, but 49 percent said it should stay the same and 6 percent said the state should raise the income tax rate.
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