If Governor Did These 10 Things, He Could Ruin His Popularity in No Time

Friday, November 27, 2015

Charlie Baker has been our governor for 11 months and hasn't yet met a poll he didn't like.

In the past week alone, there were two news reports on polls showing that Baker enjoys a level of popularity most pols only experience in their non-waking moments.

The first story concerned a nationwide poll of more than 75,000 voters in all 50 states, which  revealed that Baker is unquestionably the most popular governor in the U.S., with an approval rating in Massachusetts of 74%.  The second was on a Suffolk University poll that pegged Baker's popularity at 70%. 

For context, consider that the Suffolk poll found Senator Elizabeth Warren to be the second most popular elected official in the state, with 54% favorability.

If you are an admirer of Charlie Baker -- and I consider myself one -- it's almost understandable to think he just might be able to defy political gravity indefinitely.  He's the Eagle Scout of governors, cheerily solving one problem after another.

Most voters have concluded, after getting a good, long look at him on the big stage, that he's a good guy who honestly tries to do his best.  Charlie Baker has nailed the key objective of establishing firmly within the public consciousness a friendly, trustworthy persona.

Which is not to say he couldn't blow it.  He may be smarter than most people stumbling around this planet.  But he's still human. 

Thus, did I engage in a thought exercise.  I asked myself, what series of bone-headed moves would our governor have to make now to squander all that goodwill?   Charlie Baker, I quickly concluded, could turn himself from the toast of Broadway to toast if:

  1. He challenged Maura Healey to a one-on-one basketball game for charity and lost to the much shorter attorney general.
  2. He then complained publicly for weeks about the officiating in the game vs. Healey.
  3. He exchanged the portrait of John Volpe in his office for one of Jeb Bush.
  4. He was captured on camera in the box at Gillette nodding a little too vigorously as Bob Kraft held court.
  5. He hired Chris Christie as a consultant to MassDOT to help improve traffic flow into Boston.
  6. He started referring to himself in the third person, as in, "Charlie Baker knows the state budget better than anybody.  Anybody!"
  7. He took up golf and used his clout to jump the wait list for membership in The Country Club.
  8. He gave up wearing suit jackets at press conferences, allowing the world to see how fond he is of Larry-King-style red suspenders.
  9. He ordered the State House henceforth closed on Harvard commencement days to honor all the Harvard men who've been elected governor.
  10. He joined Mark Sanford for a week of hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

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