According to a poll released yesterday, the first elected African American governor of Massachusetts is extremely unpopular and in danger of losing his re-election bid next year:

When matched against Christy Mihos, the Democratic governor picks up 40% of the vote and trails the potential GOP nominee by a single point.

If Charlie Baker is the Republican nominee, Patrick’s support is little changed at 41% while Baker is favored by 36%. Baker is a health care chief executive officer who has not yet formally decided if he is entering the race.

In both match-ups, the number preferring “some other candidate” is in double digits, and roughly one-out-of-10 voters is undecided.

The fact that the numbers are so similar regardless of which Republican is mentioned suggest that the race so far is viewed as a referendum on the incumbent rather than a choice between competing alternatives.

Patrick has been plagued with poor job approval numbers in recent months. Currently, just 42% approve of the way he’s doing his job and 57% disapprove. Those figures include 11% who Strongly Approve at a time when 32% Strongly Disapprove.

It’s not hard to see why Patrick is in such trouble. He just signed a $1 billion tax increase, and is leaving the door open to a tax increase.

Patrick and Obama are two peas in a pod – good friends who share similar positions, themes, and language. When Patrick was elected in 2006, the state budget was $21.8 billion. The 2010 budget he approved clocks in at just over $27 billion. That’s a spending increase of 24 percent in just 2 years! The voters of Massachusetts apparently don’t believe that throwing money at the problem has done any good, and now they’re taking a huge new tax hit because of Patrick’s profligate spending.

Sound familiar?

Republicans are left in the position of hoping that the badly-wounded Patrick manages to get the Democratic nomination again – but they have to be cheered at the news that David Plouffe will head up Patrick’s effort. If he faces the voters in 2010 and has to defend an agenda very similar to that of Barack Obama, there’s a good chance the nation’s bluest state will again have a Republican Governor.