WBUR-MassINC Poll: Markey and Sullivan Lead, But Many Undecided

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The latest poll from WBUR-MassInc, released earlier today (toplines here, crosstabs here), shows Ed Markey up 35-24 (+11) on Steve Lynch among likely Democratic primary voters, with a plurality of 41 percent still undecided. Markey led 38-31 in WBUR’s February 15 poll.

Markey’s favorables are at 32-23 (+9) and Lynch’s at 37-12 (+25) (note to self: do more to get the word out about Lynch being…(censored)). But, as reflected in the high rate of undecided voters, many people don’t know much about the candidates. 31% say they’ve heard of Markey but haven’t formed an opinion. Another 12% haven’t heard of him. As for Lynch, 30% are undecided and 19% have never heard of him.

Some interesting tidbits in the crosstabs:

  • Not much spread between Markey’s lead among registered Dems (36-24) and unenrolleds who intend to vote in the Democratic primary (33-25).
  • Men favor Markey 42-27 with 32% undecided. Women favor Markey only 30-23 with 47% undecided. That’s lot of undecided women. If I’m the Markey campaign, I’m planning to get the word out on Lynch’s anti-choice positions.
  • A propos, Lynch largely getting a pass on social issues. Favorability rating of 36-13 among “pro-choice” respondents; 36-15 among “pro-life” respondents. Astounding.
  • Huge age split among men: Lynch up 38-19 among men ages 18-49, Markey up 62-16 among men 50+.
  • Significant gender gap among those 18-49. Lynch up 38-19 among men, Markey up 27-16 among women with 56% undecided.
  • Lynch leading 24-5 with a whopping 70% undecided among voters 18-29. Time for Markey to step up the outreach to the youth vote.
  • Markey comfortably ahead among older voters: 47-23 among those 60+, 41-22 among those 45-59. These groups are less likely to be undecided. If the younger voters stay home, it might well benefit Markey.

On the Republican side, Michael Sullivan appears to have a large lead: Sullivan 28%, Winslow 10%, Gomez 8%. But a full 46% of likely Republican primary voters are undecided. No Republican candidate has yet made an impression on even 30% of the GOP electorate:

  • Sullivan: 17% favorable, 10% unfavorable, 36% undecided, 35% never heard of
  • Winslow: 5% favorable, 5% unfavorable, 29% undecided, 57% never heard of
  • Gomez: 10% favorable, 10% unfavorable, 30% undecided, 46% never heard of.

Both Democratic candidates have sizable leads on any of the GOP candidates in hypothetical general election match-ups. But to me the main takeaways are that:

  1. We are five weeks from the primaries and the public seems very little engaged in this race.
  2. Steve Lynch is doing well among groups of voters who, based on the issues, would be expected to favor Markey (e.g. younger voters, especially younger women).


6 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Why do Republicans like Stephen Lynch so much?

    I would posit, when it comes to this poll’s look at the Democratic primary, that the overall favorable-unfavorable numbers are a bit misleading.

    As fenway49 noted, overall, Lynch’s favorable-unfavorable (37-12) are better than Markey’s (32-23). But those actually aren’t the operative favorable-unfavorable numbers.

    Among just Democratic respondents, Markey’s favorable-unfavorable stands at a very healthy 40-11, compared with Lynch’s 35-10. I would suggest that this subset is a better indicator for attitudes toward the candidates among potential voters for a special election’s primary.

    However, among just Republican respondents, Markey’s favorable-unfavorable is an understandable 12-44. It makes sense that Republicans might not be thrilled with Congressman Markey’s efforts to address climate change, or his support for reproductive rights and for LGBT equality, or his advocacy for gun safety. No doubt, Markey’s 12-44 fav-unfav among GOP respondents brings down his overall figures a bit.

    Meanwhile, Lynch’s favorable-unfavorable among just Republican respondents is a much healthier 34-15 – no doubt this figure helps buoy Lynch’s overall fav-unfav numbers. Perhaps the support Congressman Lynch enjoys among Republicans is due to his record of social conservatism, or his many votes to continue funding the Iraq War, or his vote against Obamacare.

    Regardless of the source of Congressman Lynch’s support among Republicans, it is fair for Democratic primary voters to wonder: Why do Republicans like Stephen Lynch so much?

    • The vote against ACA?


    • Good point

      I noticed, in addition to this:

      Among just Democratic respondents, Markey’s favorable-unfavorable stands at a very healthy 40-11, compared with Lynch’s 35-10. I would suggest that this subset is a better indicator for attitudes toward the candidates among potential voters for a special election’s primary.

      that Lynch is at 38-14 with unenrolled voters as well, Markey at 32-25. 40% of unenrolled voters said they plan to vote in the Democratic primary, only 19% in the Republican primary. I crunched some numbers and, among people eligible to vote in the Democratic primary, Lynch is at 36.8 favorable, 12.3 unfavorable and Markey at 36.6 favorable, 19.5 unfavorable. Of course, it may be that the unenrolled who dislike Markey are the more conservative ones, and they’ll be voting in the Republican primary.

      As for why Republicans like Lynch, I’d say it’s all of the factors you identified. A full 40% of people in this poll who plan to vote in the Republican primary think the Congressional GOP has compromised with Obama too much, another 30% think they’ve compromised about the right amount. Of course, they’ve compromised on essentially nothing for three years running. That Lynch is so popular among that crowd is pretty telling.

    • Culture war

      I think it’s because they feel Lynch is on their side in the culture war. He left-bates; despite recent changes, he is still identified with being anti-choice and anti-gay.

      Kind of ironic since, national, Lynch is still very much a democrat, ACA vote notwithstanding. But that’s what you’ve got when you’ve got nothing: tribal politics.

  2. No, not 41% undecided

    41% undecided or refused. Look again at the results wording. It’s “Don’t Know/Refused.”

    Why did they combine those two? There are plenty of people who are decided and who refuse to respond to political polls or canvassers.

    • True

      I don’t know why they combined them. But there are questions on specific issues that break the two categories out and the “refused” is very small. Other questions combine them and the combined number again is very small (like 1%, 3%, etc.).

      Given that, I’d venture that most of the “Don’t Know/Refused” are in fact undecided. If they were going to refuse to answer the pollsters, they would do so at the outset and not go through all the questions. Certainly we’d know with more certainty if they’d reported the two categories separately.

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Fri 28 Apr 11:54 AM