By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Patrick versus Romney

Much comment out there about the Globe’s poll regarding Gov. Deval Patrick’s first 100 days in office, as well as a similar State House News Service poll. The Outraged Liberal: It could be worse. Hub Politics: Actually, it couldn’t be much worse. Blue Mass Group: It’s pretty good! David Bernstein: It’s pretty bad, but don’t write Deval off.

What’s missing from all this is context. How is Patrick doing compared to Mitt Romney at a similar point in his term? Media Nation comes to the rescue. It turns out that the Globe conducted an almost-identical poll in April 2003 (online here; scroll down), around the time Romney had been governor for 100 days. What follows are some numbers from both Globe surveys.

Personal popularity

  • Romney: 55 percent positive; 32 percent negative
  • Patrick: 63 percent positive; 25 percent negative

Job performance

  • Romney: 55 percent positive; 39 percent negative
  • Patrick: 48 percent positive; 33 percent negative

State of the state

  • Romney: 39 percent, right track; 47 percent, wrong track
  • Patrick: 44 percent, right track; 56 percent, wrong track

Budget leadership

  • Romney: 51 percent, approve; 40 percent, disapprove
  • Patrick: 56 pecent, approve; 30 percent, disapprove

Much as I’d like to make more comparisons, the tabular data from 2003 are not online.

So what can we learn from the Romney-Patrick smackdown? At roughly the same point in their governorships, they were in a similar position with respect to public perceptions. Patrick is better liked. Although a higher percentage of respondents approved of Romney’s job performance, a higher percentage disapproved, too. Apparently more people are watching and waiting with Patrick.

Each governor dug himself into something of a hole rather quickly. As we know, Romney never dug himself out — and, after a while, he stopped trying, as he decided to run for president by making fun of Massachusetts rather than govern.

Despite Patrick’s stumbles coming out of the gate (some real, some media hooey), he seems genuinely dedicated to trying to do a good job. The relatively high marks he receives for managing the budget put him in a decent position from which to mount a comeback. And he has a reservoir of goodwill on which to draw.

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  1. Anonymous

    The margin of error (one standard deviation) of the older and recent polls are 5% and 4.4%, respectively. The error in the difference between the two polls is, therefore, 7% [sqrt(5*5+4.4*4.4) = 6.6%, rounds to 7%].Most of the “trends” you note are marginally significant or not significant at all compared to the combined error of 7%. I conclude that Patrick’s and Romney’s poll numbers are basically indistinguishable after the first 100 days of each of their terms.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Yeah, that sounds about right. As I said, they’re pretty much in the same position.

  3. David S. Bernstein

    Dan — I think your context needs a little context. Romney was elected with a slim plurality of 49%; Patrick coasted in with 55%. I think it’s fair to say that on Day 1, Patrick had considerably higher popularity and expectations than Romney did. So I think the comparison still suggests that Patrick has disappointed his constituents thus far, although they still like him, whereas the first months of Romney in office left people a little more confident in his ability to govern than anticipated.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    David: Your context to my context needs to be contextualized. ;-)Romney defeated a tough Democratic opponent. I would argue that Patrick was unopposed, although I realize there was some Healey woman running around saying stuff.Thus, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of Patrick’s victory margin was very soft.

  5. Peter Porcupine

    David – I blogged about this a couple of weeks ago – issues, not poll numbers – as the 100 day mark approaches, the reason becomes more clear – attitude.

  6. mike_b1

    Something of a “whole,” Dan?Egad.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Ha, ha! I mean “xheault,” of course.

  8. myclob

    How is pointing out that Massachusetts does not have many republicans “making fun of massachusetts”?You are an idiot.

  9. Outraged Liberal

    Context? We don’t need no stinkin’ context! 🙂 Seriously, thanks for making that connection, which is something I usually try to do.And I agree that while Patrick had better numbers than Romney when he first came into office, he wasn’t tested until well after the polls closed and the gaffes began. A lot of soft support melted away — and Patrick should thank his lucky stars that the damage has been limited so far.

  10. Anonymous

    who inherited the worst situation? I would contend that Patrick inherited a better situation than Romney did. This should also be used in context of the numbers.

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