October 10, 2018

Nurse staffing opponents ahead in new poll

Photo/Grant Welker
UMass Memorial Health Care's administration is opposed to Question 1, which would mandate certain nurse-to-patient staffing ratios.

Opponents outnumber supporters of Question 1 in newly released UMass-Lowell poll results that also show Gov. Charlie Baker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren maintaining large leads over their opponents as they seek re-election on Nov. 6.

The poll of 791 registered voters, taken the first week of October, showed 51 percent of likely voters opposed nurse staffing requirements outlined in Question 1 while 43 percent support the measure. Among Republicans, 68 percent opposed Question 1.

Supporters say the ballot question will improve health care and safety for patients and opponents claim the proposal will send costs soaring higher while removing the discretion of hospital managers. The question has been the focus of heavy spending by both sides, with opponents saying the Massachusetts Nurses Association is trying to force its union agenda on the state while supporters say hospital executives are bankrolling an anti-Question 1 campaign steeped in scare tactics and frivolous claims that they can't afford to hire more nurses.

In the new poll, conducted in partnership with The Boston Globe, Baker led Democrat Jay Gonzalez 66 percent to 27 percent among likely voters, with 8 percent undecided. Gonzalez led Baker by only 3 percentage points among Democrats, and trailed the governor 77 percent to 17 percent among independents, the largest single group of registered voters. Gonzalez supports Question 1; Baker has so far declined to take a stance on the proposal.

With 56 percent support, Sen. Warren led Republican Geoff Diehl (31 percent) and independent Shiva Ayyadurai (5 percent) in the poll. Forty percent of the poll's respondents viewed Warren unfavorably, but 55 percent had a favorabe view of the senator, who is eyeing a possible run for president in 2020.

Warren has been a frequent critic of President Donald Trump and Gonzalez has jabbed at Baker for endorsing Diehl, a Trump supporter in the 2016 election.

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