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Job Growth on the Front of Voters’ Minds Heading into Election

By: Scott Flaherty

October 28, 2010

Cambridge, Mass. — For Stephanie Turner, next week’s election for governor in Massachusetts comes down to one thing: “It’s all about employment.”

Turner, a 55-year-old from Medford, Mass. who works in law enforcement, said the state’s current governor, Deval Patrick, hasn’t done enough in his first term.  So, she said, “I’m looking into Charlie Baker.”

The top candidates for this year’s gubernatorial election have stressed economic growth as one of the most pressing challenges facing the state.  Patrick, a Democrat, has made the claim in campaign speeches that the state is leading the nation out of the recession due to the policies put in place during his first term.  Meanwhile, his main rival, Republican Charles Baker, has outlined a plan of his own to stimulate job growth by reducing costs to businesses operating in the state.

Either candidate will have his work cut out for him if elected—the most recent unemployment rate, for September, was 8.4 percent in Massachusetts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a dozen interviews conducted Tuesday outside a shopping center on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, nearly all voters named the economy or job growth as something they hoped the next governor would work on.

Isabel Perkins, a 65-year-old antiques dealer, said she chose to support Patrick over Baker because she doesn’t “see how you can roll back taxes” with the state economy still deep in recession.

Perkins said if Patrick is reelected, “I hope he’ll tackle the job problem.  I think it’s not going to get solved, but he’ll just have to keep on it.”

Perkins, like Stephanie Turner, expressed another sentiment common to many of the voters interviewed—she’s not entirely happy with the job Patrick has done in his first term.  She described him as having “medium” success so far.

Lou Coveino, 55, who works as a contractor, agreed, saying, “There’s always room for improvement.”  Still, Coveino said he would vote for Patrick on Nov. 2.

Dave Connell, a 49-year-old stage hand from Worcester, said he also plans to vote for Patrick but said, “I’m not as happy as I had hoped to be.”

Connell went on to say that along with job programs, he would like the next governor to focus more on alternative energy, explaining, “I want windmills everywhere.”

Linda Smith, a 33-year-old speech therapist, said she’s supporting Patrick “because I’m in education” and said she thought the governor would do a better job improving schools than any of the other candidates.

In addition to job growth, energy and education, some voters identified a few other issues that would factor into their voting decision, including the candidates’ plans to help the poor and their stances on the recently passed CORI reform, which changed the state rules employers must follow when completing criminal background checks on potential employees.

None of the voters said they would support either of the gubernatorial candidates from outside the two major parties, Jill Stein from the Green-Rainbow Party and the state’s current treasurer, Tim Cahill, who’s running as an Independent.

The race continues to be tight between the leading candidates with the latest Rasmussen poll, which surveyed 750 likely voters on Oct. 27, showing Patrick with an advantage of 46 percent to 44 percent over Baker.  Cahill received only six percent support, while three percent supported other candidates and one percent was undecided.

The margin of error for the poll was four percent, indicating that Patrick and Baker are neck-and-neck.

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