Move over, Scott Brown.
The strategy of hitting Democrats on immigration in elections is working for Republicans who employ it nationwide–even in liberal Massachusetts, where another poll shows GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker tied in a close race with Democrat Martha Coakley after an interview with Breitbart News in which he further crystallized his opposition to illegal immigrant access to public benefits.
The poll, from Rasmussen Reports, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, found that Baker and Coakley are both pulling down 42 percent. It has a 4 percent margin of error and was conducted on Sept. 15 and Sept. 16, surveying 750 likely Massachusetts voters.
The Boston Herald, which first flagged the poll on Sunday, noted that “as recently as last week, polling had Baker within seven points but still lagging.” That’s a reference to a Mass Inc Polling Group/WBUR poll, which was conducted with 504 likely voters from Sept. 11 through Sept. 14 with a 4.4 percent margin of error. It had Coakley leading Baker 41 percent to 34 percent. A Boston Globe poll of 407 likely voters conducted between Sept. 14 and Sept. 16 saw Baker back on the rise, trailing Coakley’s then 39 percent by just 3 points with 36 percent–inside the 4.9 percent margin of error.
The previous Boston Globe poll, conducted Aug. 24 through Aug. 26, found that Baker led Coakley by a point–38 percent to 37 percent, within the margin of error–right after Baker rolled out the housing plan for Americans over illegal immigrants. That poll was done right after Baker rolled out a plan that would bar illegal immigrants from accessing section 8 public housing, reserving that public benefit for struggling Bay State residents.
Baker has had a couple major breaks come his way in the race, with prominent Democrats in the state either endorsing him outright or throwing verbal rhetorical support his way. At the same time, he was driving home the message that illegal immigrants shouldn’t get access to public benefits when Massachusetts citizens and legal immigrants are struggling.
A lengthy interview with Breitbart News published on Sept. 15, the day before this polling from Rasmussen began, noted Baker’s opposition to giving benefits to illegal immigrants. The piece and interview recounted how Baker has targeted the current administration of outgoing Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick for considering allowing Massachusetts to house–on behalf of the federal government and President Barack Obama’s administration–illegal immigrants, who have entered the United States as part of the border crisis, when there are homeless Massachusetts citizens struggling.
“That’s not helping,” Baker said when Breitbart News asked him about the effects of illegal immigration on the commonwealth of Massachusetts and its various cities and towns. Baker added:
Number one, the inability of the federal government to deal with illegal immigration is a policy problem in Washington, but it’s a very different and much more direct and immediate issue for state leaders and local leaders, such as mayors and other local officials, because they end up dealing with the consequences of not having an immigration policy at the federal level that works. During the past seven years, while state spending has gone up by billions of dollars, the state has cut local aid to cities and towns by hundreds of millions of dollars–which has made it very difficult for cities and towns to do what they need to do to ensure public safety, education, basic services and all the rest.
Baker’s spokesman added that he opposes providing i- state tuition or driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
Baker served as a public finance and health administrator in previous GOP administrations in Massachusetts under governors Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci, then took a struggling healthcare company into record-setting profit margins before setting his sights on the governor’s mansion.
Couple this strong stance on the immigration issue as it affects Massachusetts voters with the fact that Democrats are crossing over to endorse him, or offer verbal support, and Baker’s in good shape heading into November.
In New Hampshire, ex-Massachusetts U.S. Senator Scott Brown is running against incumbent Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen using the immigration issue and the threat the open southern U.S. border presents to America’s national security. It’s working for him there, too, and he’s polling neck-and-neck with Shaheen heading into the home stretch.
Meanwhile, in purple Virginia, Republican Ed Gillespie is avoiding the issue altogether and hasn’t said much if anything about immigration–except for his support for comprehensive immigration reform and calling the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill “good policy” and “good politics,” though a spokesman now says he would vote against it–and he’s polling more than 15 points behind incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Warner and is widely expected to lose by that margin.