BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley continues to hold a commanding lead over her four rivals for the Democratic nomination for governor, according to a new Suffolk University poll that also shows voter opinion shifting dramatically against the state's nascent casino industry.
As the Democrats running to succeed Gov. Deval Patrick enter a critical week of campaigning ahead of the Democratic Party Convention in Worcester this weekend, Coakley leads her nearest rival, Treasurer Steve Grossman, by 32 points with a 44 percent to 12 percent advantage.
Though support for Coakley has fallen from 56 percent since the last Suffolk University Polling Center survey in February, Grossman's backing has remained relatively flat with over 32 percent of voters indicating that they are still undecided in the race.
Meanwhile, the overall opinion of casino gaming in Massachusetts has flip-flopped over the past four months, according to the poll. While a majority of Bay State voters approved of casino gaming in February, 47 percent now disapprove of casinos compared to 37 percent who still favor casino gaming. Support for the industry is down from 50.5 percent in February.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is poised to decide Friday whether to award the state's first casino license to applicants MGM who hope to build a facility in Springfield. The commission is scheduled in late August or early September to award a casino license in the Boston area.
"The race is a little bit closer in the Democratic primary but it's still Coakley's," said Suffolk University polling director David Paleologos. He said "Coakley's numbers have dropped a little bit not to anyone else's benefit."
Grossman said Coakley's campaign is suffering from a "passion gap," and predicted that he would begin to close the deficit in both support and name recognition later in the summer when his campaign begins airing ads on television.