Democrat Martha Coakley Leads Republican Charlie Baker In Massachusetts Governor's Race

BOSTON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat, leads Republican businessman Charlie Baker in the state's governor's race, according to the first poll released since last week's party primaries.

Some 41 percent of likely voters said they would cast their ballots for Coakley, who could be the first woman elected to the office, while 34 percent backed Baker, findings by the WBUR/MassINC Polling Group showed on Wednesday.

Another roughly 20 percent of the 504 people polled Sept. 11-14 said they had not yet made up their minds following each party's competitive primary.

The gap in the poll, which had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points, backs up Coakley's advantage found by polls of a theoretical contest between the pair ahead of the Sept. 9 primary.

Political analysts have noted that some Democratic voters in the state remain wary of Coakley following her stunning 2010 loss of a U.S. Senate bid to the then-little-known Republican state legislator Scott Brown, who is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat from New Hampshire.

Wednesday's poll showed personality issues influenced voters' picks, with 39 percent saying they believed Coakley would stand up for people like them and 34 percent describing Baker as a likable person who they believe can effectively manage the state's government.

While Massachusetts has a reputation for liberal politics, its voters have picked only one Democratic governor in the past two decades, incumbent Deval Patrick, who has opted not to seek a third term.

If elected, Coakley would be the first Democratic woman to win a gubernatorial race in the state but not the first to serve. Republican Jane Swift became acting governor in 2001 when Paul Cellucci was named U.S. ambassador to Canada. (Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Susan Heavey)



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