Baker tops nation’s governors in voter approval ratings

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BOSTON – Bay State Gov. Charlie Baker is the most popular governor in the nation, according to a poll released Friday by Morning Consult, a media and polling company in Washington.

Baker, a Republican elected last year, enjoys a 74 percent approval rating, the company said, citing a poll of 1,513 registered voters in Massachusetts. Only 14 percent held a negative view of the governor’s job performance.

More than 76,000 registered voters in all 50 states were surveyed from May to November, Morning Consult said. It said the seven top-scoring governors in its job-approval poll are Republicans. It said 16 governors had job-approval ratings of over 60 percent and 34 scored 50 percent or better.

Baker has at least until recently come in for little criticism from political opponents. But on Monday, he said Massachusetts wouldn’t willingly accept new Syrian refugees for resettlement until he knew more about screening procedures used to make sure they don’t pose security threats. The governor’s remarks came days after a horrific terrorist attack in Paris in which one dead assailant appeared to have been carrying a Syrian passport and had only recently arrived in Europe.

While Boston Mayor Marty Walsh echoed the governor’s concerns, Baker’s comments spurred a sharp response from U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Salem and a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq.

“It’s a shame that Governor Baker doesn’t know the difference between refugees and those from whom they need refuge,” Moulton said in a response Monday to the governor’s statement. Moulton later voted against a Republican-backed measure in the House of Representatives to require stricter screening of Syrians seeking to enter the country as refugees, but two Bay State Democrats, Reps. Bill Keating and Steve Lynch, voted for the bill, over a veto threat from the White House.

A demonstration against Baker’s hesitance to welcome more Syrian refugees is planned for late Friday in front of the State House. But the governor is away on vacation.

Baker’s approval rating far surpassed any other New England governor, with New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, scoring the next-highest in the region at 57 percent approving. All the other New England governors scored less than 50 percent, including 46 percent each for Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, both Democrats. Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who won re-election last year, had a 39 percent approval rating and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, brought up the regional rear at 36 percent.

Malloy, re-elected last year, ranked third from last among all 50 U.S. governors, according to Morning Consult. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, ranked last, with a 26 percent approval rating. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican who on Tuesday ended his 2016 presidential bid, was next-to-last at a 35 percent rating.

By comparison, President Barack Obama’s approval rating stood at 49 percent Tuesday, according to the Gallup Poll’s weekly summary of a daily voter survey. Meanwhile Gallup said Nov. 11 that Congress had fallen to an 11 percent approval rating, near its all-time low.