By Michael Norton and Andy Metzger
State House News Service
BOSTON -- Attorney General Martha Coakley leads Republican Charles Baker by 13 percentage points, but Baker leads four of the other five potential Democratic opponents, according to poll results released Tuesday.
According to Public Policy Polling, which included U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano in its field of seven Democrats running for governor, 41 percent of likely Democratic primary voters chose Coakley, with 21 percent selecting Capuano, who Coakley beat in the 2009 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.
Without Capuano in the field of Democrats, Coakley captured 57 percent to 10 percent for her nearest competitor, Treasurer Steven Grossman.
"Martha Coakley's image has recovered a lot from 2010 and she's looking like the early front-runner for governor," said Public Policy Polling President Dean Debnam, in a statement.
Coakley is the latest entrant into the race and Grossman publicly mulled a run for nine months before announcing his intentions in July. Capuano has yet to say whether he will run for governor.
The pollsters surveyed 616 Massachusetts voters, including 324 usual Democratic primary voters, between Sept. 20 and Sept. 23.
While Coakley leads Baker 51-38 and Capuano leads him 42-37, the poll showed Baker with leads over declared Democratic candidates for governor Joe Avellone (40-30), Don Berwick (42-37), Juliette Kayyem (38-31) and Sen. Dan Wolf (37-31). Grossman and Baker were in a virtual tie, with the treasurer edging the businessman 38-37. The poll has a 4-point margin of error, with a 5.4 percent margin of error for the exclusively Democratic Party portion.
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, who will be up for re-election next year, had a dead-even approval/disapproval rate (39-39), with 58 percent support among Democrats and 75 percent disapproval among Republicans.
While Republicans Bill Weld, the former governor, and Scott Brown, the former U.S. senator, had favorable approval ratios, Brown was the only Republican that did not lose to Markey in the poll, as Weld fell 47-41, Markey's former special election opponent Gabriel Gomez fell 53-35 and Richard Tisei, who was the GOP's lieutenant governor nominee in 2010, was beat 54-27.
Brown, who boasted ahead of the June special Senate election that he could have beat the veteran Democrat, was edged out 46-45, within the margin of error.
With about a year until the primary and less than a year until the Democratic Party nominating convention, several of the Democrats have yet to make an impression on voters.
Asked for an opinion on Avellone, Berwick, Kayyem and Wolf, more than 75 percent of respondents had no opinion. About half of those surveyed had yet to form an opinion on Capuano and Grossman, while only 13 percent were unsure about Coakley.
Baker, who challenged Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010, had yet to make an impression on 40 percent of voters, including 33 percent of Republicans. The Republican who previously held top Cabinet posts in state government during the 1990s received a favorable designation from about 25 percent of people who voted for President Barack Obama.