Last week’s poll from Mass Inc. for WBUR had Ed Markey leading Steve Lynch by a 35-24 margin among self-reported Democratic primary voters, with 41% either undecided or declining to reveal their choice.
Now PPP, the pollster of record last cycle, has a new poll out for the League of Conservation Voters (which has endorsed Markey). The PPP poll, of 496 likely Democratic primary voters, was conducted on March 26 and 27 and has a margin of error or +/- 4.4 points. In it Markey leads Lynch by a large margin, 49-32 (+17). In PPP’s last poll, in mid-February, Markey led Lynch by 43-28 (+15).
Obviously many more respondents identified a preference between the candidates: 81% in this poll, only 59% in the recent Mass. Inc. poll. It’s not clear how firm those preferences are and how many are “leaners.”
In terms of favorablilty ratings, Markey does much better in this poll than in the Mass. Inc. poll: 67 percent favorable, 18 percent unfavorable (+49), whereas in the Mass. Inc. poll he was at only 32-23 (+9). Lynch, meanwhile, is at 44 percent favorable, 30 percent unfavorable (+14) in the PPP poll. He was at 37-12 (+25) in the Mass. Inc. poll.
It must be remembered, however, that these polls are surveying very different groups of people in their “favorability” questions. The Mass. Inc. poll last week surveyed Democrats, unenrolled voters, and Republicans. The pollsters asked asked its Democratic “horserace” questions only of those respondents who indicated they were likely to vote in the Democratic primary. Its “favorable/unfavorable” questions, however, were asked of all respondents, including registered Republicans who are not eligible to vote in the Democratic primary. Lynch’s gaudy numbers were aided by his strong favorability rating among registered Republicans, a group whose antipathy to Markey brought his numbers down while bringing Lynch’s up.
Because it’s not possible to separate the unenrolleds in the Mass. Inc. poll who will vote in the Democratic primary from those who will vote in the GOP primary, or no primary, it’s very hard to say what the poll found about the candidates’ relative popularity among Democratic primary voters, which is the only relevant group at this point.This PPP poll has likelihood of voting in the Democratic primary as a threshold question for further participation in the survey, suggesting its numbers on favorable-unfavorable might be more accurate.
Not much detail is out yet about the new PPP poll, but it does indicate that Markey is benefiting from his strong pro-environmental stance; a majority of respondents are against the Keystone XL pipeline and, among those who oppose that project, Markey leads Lynch 75-11.