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Massachusetts 2020: Kennedy Leading Markey by 16 points in US Senate Race

A new Emerson College/7 News poll finds Democratic Senator Ed Markey at risk of losing reelection, as he trails Congressman Joe Kennedy 58% to 42% for the September 1 Democratic primary. (N=620, +/-3.9%, MM, likely voters, May 5-6, 2020).


While the lead is significant, 60% of voters said they might change their mind before September. Additionally, with safety concerns due to the coronavirus, a majority (61%) of voters said they would rather vote by mail, while 39% said they still prefer an in-person option to vote.

Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling said “Markey has a lot of work to do this summer, especially in the Boston area where Kennedy holds a 30 point lead. With Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley declining to endorse either candidate, Markey appears limited at this time for a game-changer.”


Presidential Race

In the Presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in the state, 60% to 30% with about 9% undecided (n=740, +/-3.5%, MM, registered voters, May 5-6 2020). Of those currently undecided, 70% are leaning towards voting for Biden.

Despite Biden’s strong lead in the head-to-head matchup, there are other areas of concern for the former VP. Similar to his national numbers, 44% of Biden supporters in Massachusetts report that they are excited to support Biden, while 28% report they are only mildly excited, and 28% also report they are not that excited to support Biden. Conversely, 66% of Trump supporters report that they are extremely or very excited to support Trump in November, while only 15% report that they are not that excited.


Part of the lack of enthusiasm could be seen in that 49% of Democratic voters would prefer New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as the Democratic nominee, with 51% preferring Biden.

Another concern beyond the lack of enthusiasm for Biden is that only 54% of Massachusetts voters expect him to win the election, despite his holding a 30 point lead in the Commonwealth. 46% believe that Trump will win come November. 

The top issue for voters in Massachusetts in deciding who they will vote for is simply “beating Trump” at 36%, followed by 26% reporting the economy as their top issue, and 16% reporting healthcare. On the other end, 9% said re-electing Trump was their most important issue.

Voters are split about the sexual harassment and assault allegations against Biden with 34% believing they are false, 32% believing they are true and 34% being currently undecided on the issue. This cuts by party lines, as 20% of Democrats and 35% of Independents think they are true, while 61% of Republicans think the allegations are true. 

A plurality of voters, 46%, think Biden needs to release more records concerning the allegation of assault made by Tara Reade while 31% think he has released enough, and 22% are unsure. Democrats are slightly more split on this question, as 42% say he has released enough, compared to 39% who would like to see more records. A plurality of Independents (47%) would also like to see Biden release more records.

There is no consensus in Massachusetts on who Biden should choose as his Vice President. Hometown candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren was the top choice at 29%, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris at 21% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 17%. No other candidate was above 6%, while 23% said they would like someone else.


Coronavirus

Over a third (36%) of voters in Massachusetts report that either themselves or someone in their household lost their job as a result of the virus. Younger individuals between 18-29 years report the highest rate of job loss (45%), followed by those aged 30-49 (40%). Those who identify as Hispanic or Latino also report higher rates of job loss in the household, at 47%. 

About a quarter of voters (24%) want Governor Baker to allow non-essential businesses to open on May 18, another 31% want to wait until June and another 22% want to wait until the 4th of July. 23% of voters want to wait until after the 4th of July for non-essential businesses to reopen.

Over a third (38%) of Massachusetts respondents said they or someone they know has tested positive for coronavirus. 

When places of work do re-open, about 35% of voters say they will go back to work under any condition. The rest of the workforce is split, with 13% saying they will not go back until testing is conducted, 12% saying they will go back if masks are worn at work, and 12% saying they will not go to work at all out of fear of catching the virus and bringing it home. 3% said they will not go back because they have kids at home who need supervision. Over a quarter (26%) of voters report that it does not matter, as they are unemployed. 

Starting on May 6th, Governor Baker has mandated that all Massachusetts residents are required to wear face masks or coverings while in public places where social distancing is not possible. This new requirement has been met positively by voters, as 84% say the order is necessary and 15% say it is unnecessary. 

In regards to the federal government’s response to COVID-19 in Massachusetts, one of the hardest-hit states, a majority (55%) of voters think that the federal government has not done enough to help the state.


Caller ID

The Massachusetts Emerson College/7News poll was conducted May 5-6, 2020. The sample consisted of registered Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters, n=740, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by age, ethnicity, education, party, and region. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines (n=531) and an online panel provided by MTurk (n=219).

Key Takeaways
  • Over a third of Massachusetts voters report job loss in their household over the Coronavirus
  • Majority think non-essential businesses should open by June 1
  • Twice as many Trump supporters report being very excited to vote compared to Biden voters
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Markey has a lot of work to do this summer, especially in the Boston area where Kennedy holds a 30 point lead. With Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley d...
Spencer KimballEmerson College Polling director
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