Feb 14, 2023 - Politics

Reintroducing Maura Healey

Photo illustration of Maura Healey with lines radiating from her.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Beyond the issues she faces on Beacon Hill, Gov. Maura Healey has her work cut out making a name for herself now that she's in the corner office.

The big picture Healey beat conservative Republican Geoff Diehl last November by nearly 30 points. But she was always a shoe-in in the uncompetitive race, and it doesn't mean everyone in her state knows much about her.

By the numbers: Over one-third of Mass. voters have either never heard of Healey (15%) or know her and haven't formed an opinion of her yet (22%), according to a poll conducted earlier this month by MassINC Polling Group.

  • The good news for Healey is that 42% of those who do know her think of her favorably, compared with 21% who dislike her.

Between the lines: That could be because Healey's campaign for the corner office was a streamlined collection of vague themes about teamwork, economic struggle and how much she likes basketball, instead of detailed plans for governing the state.

  • Healey didn’t have much of a fight in the Democratic primary or general election, meaning a vibes-based campaign light on policy specifics was the smart political move.
  • But it may not have been the most effective way to introduce herself to voters who don't obsess much over local politics.

Yes, but: Luckily for Healey's future prospects, the pocketbook-based agenda she ran on last year matches what voters say they want from her.

  • 19% of respondents listed the economy and jobs as their top concern.
  • Another 18% said housing and homelessness are a top issue, and 16% listed inflation or the cost of living.

Flashback: The untested new governor has a lot of catching up to do to reach the heights former Gov. Charlie Baker attained by the end of his two terms.

  • Only 2% of voters hadn't heard of Baker by October 2022 according to another MassINC poll.
  • Only 13% knew him, but hadn't formed an opinion over the last eight years.

It could be worse. The MassINC poll also found that 54% of Mass. voters have never heard of U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, the second-ranking Democrat in the House.


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