Gov. Charlie Baker's approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts has slipped by more than 20%, a new report shows.
Researchers found a gradual decline in the Republican governor's approval ratings throughout the pandemic, starting at a "remarkably high" 80% approval in April 2020 that dropped to 59% about a year later.
Baker has come under fire for a rocky vaccination rollout in Massachusetts. But in recent weeks, Baker has pointed to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that rank the state as a "top 10 performer" in vaccine doses per capita, and first among states its size or larger.
Baker's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The results for Massachusetts were analyzed by researchers as part of a series of national surveys conducted by Northeastern, Harvard, Rutgers, and Northwestern universities from late April 2020 to March 1, 2021.
The local trend lines up with a drop in approval ratings for governors across the country, which decreased by an average of 46% by February. The average governor's approval in the spring of 2020 was around 64%, according to the report.
Researchers also examined public health behaviors, including mask wearing, hand washing and avoiding crowded places. People in Massachusetts were at their "strictest adherence," in the spring, according to the report, then gradually relaxed until the start of fall.
The survey also found that approval of former President Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis among Massachusetts residents gradually declined from 35% in April to 21% in January. President Joe Biden had more than triple the approval level of Trump by March at 68%.
After just over a three-year reign, Baker was dethroned as America's most-popular governor in January 2020. A Morning Consult poll showed a nominal drop in the governor's approval rating, making him the third most popular governor.
Baker often receives praise for his bipartisanship as a Republican in a blue state. He is currently in his second term as governor and will be up for reelection in 2022. It is uncertain if Baker will seek a third term.