State Rep. Martin Walsh (46 percent) leads City Councilor-at-Large John Connolly (43 percent) in the Boston mayoral race, with 9 percent undecided, according to the latest Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll of tightly screened likely voters.
Walsh has erased a 7-point deficit from early October. In the interim, he received a series of endorsements. Supporters include preliminary mayoral candidates Felix Arroyo, John Barros and Charlotte Golar Richie, and Walsh has dramatically improved in the wards where these candidates finished first.
“Martin Walsh has improved his favorability numbers and has linked his campaign to three endorsers who are helping him in areas of the city where he was extremely weak in September,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “The question is: Will those candidates' supporters come out for Walsh with the same intensity as they did for Felix Arroyo, John Barros and Charlotte Golar Richie? If they do, he benefits. If not, his campaign could fail.”
Citywide, Connolly’s 60 percent favorability rating was comparable to his 62 percent favorable numbers from early October, but Walsh’s rating jumped from 55 percent to 62 percent. Walsh is closing Connolly’s gender advantage among women (Connolly 45 percent, Walsh 44 percent currently, compared to 43 percent Connolly and 29 percent Walsh in early October). And Walsh is widening his lead among men to 47 percent-39 percent from 39 percent-38 percent earlier this month.
Walsh also improved among those who had voted in the September preliminary election. In early October he trailed Connolly by 5 points among these voters, 39 percent to 34 percent, but he now leads by 7 points, 47 percent to 40 percent. However, Connolly is ahead by 19 points, 53 percent to 34 percent, among those who skipped the September preliminary and said they were very likely to vote on Tuesday. This is similar to the point spread among these voters in the early-October poll.
“Connolly’s strength with those voting in this race for the first time next week could impact the strategies of both campaigns this weekend,” said Paleologos.
Asked about their perceptions of how the candidates would govern, likely voters said Walsh had a “better plan to reduce crime” (35 percent to 25 percent), “understands problems of people like you” (38 percent to 32 percent) and “would help you if you called” (33 percent to 24 percent). Connolly scored a landslide on “better education plan” (50 percent to 26 percent). Although each camp has said that the other has run a negative campaign, 13 percent of voters said Connolly has run a negative campaign, and 16 percent said Walsh has done so, but 42 percent of likely voters said that neither has.
At-Large Council race
In the Boston City Council At-Large race, newcomer Michelle Wu (20 percent) topped the list of eight hopefuls vying for four seats, followed by incumbent Ayanna Pressley (16 percent), former At-Large Councilor and 2009 mayoral candidate Michael Flaherty (14 percent) and City Council President Stephen Murphy (10 percent). Four candidates were in single digits: Jeffrey Michael Ross (8 percent), Jack Kelly and Annissa Essaibi George (7 percent), and Martin Keogh (5 percent). Eleven percent were undecided.
“Michelle Wu looks incredibly strong in this poll, as she did in the last,” said Paleologos. “I think we may be seeing her raising her hand to take the oath of office in January, which is quite an accomplishment for a first-time political candidate in the city of Boston.”
Contracts, parking, jobs
A majority of voters (56 percent) said that arbitrators should be brought in to assist with contract negotiations with teachers, police and firefighters, while 24 percent disagreed.
More than two-thirds said that all new housing within the city should be required to include at least one parking space per residence (68 percent – 19 percent).
Eighty-three percent of voters said that corporations should guarantee job creation in return for tax break consideration at City Hall.
In a separate poll of 300 East Boston residents after Caesars Entertainment bowed out of the Suffolk Downs casino proposal, 47 percent continue to support a casino in their neighborhood, while 42 percent are opposed. Men overwhelmingly supported the nonbinding referendum (51 percent to 34 percent), while the measure trailed 49 percent to 42 percent among women.
Both polls are part of a Boston mayoral race partnership between Suffolk University and the Boston Herald that included polling, a candidate forum, commentary and hands-on involvement for Suffolk students.
Using the voter list from the 2012 presidential election and other Boston elections, the Suffolk University poll used a tight screen to filter out voters who weren't likely to vote or who couldn't name the approximate timeframe of the final election for mayor of Boston. The field of 555 very likely final election voters was conducted Oct. 29 through Oct. 31, 2013. The margin of error is +/- 4.2 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. The Ward 1 snap poll of 300 very likely final election voters was conducted Oct. 30 through Oct. 31. The margin of error is +/- 5.65 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.