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.
- Romney: 55 percent positive; 32 percent negative
- Patrick: 63 percent positive; 25 percent negative
- 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
- 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.