Suffolk University Poll Shows Casino Support Losing Ground in Massachusetts

Support for casinos in Massachusetts is declining, with more voters opposed than in favor of them, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll of Bay State voters. The survey also shows Democrat Martha Coakley leading Republican Charlie Baker in the gubernatorial race, but by a smaller margin than in February.

Forty-seven percent of voters disapprove of locating casinos in Massachusetts, while 37 percent approve and 15 percent are undecided. This is a turnaround from a Suffolk University Political Research Center poll from February, when 51 percent of state voters approved of casinos and 37 percent were against them. Moreover, 55 percent now say that there should not be a casino in Revere or Everett, up from 47 percent who disapproved of bringing gambling to the Boston-area cities when polled in February.

“The shift is good news for gambling opponents but dicey for the companies that have invested in locating casinos here,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “While gambling opponents await a Supreme Judicial Court decision on whether they can present a casino-repeal referendum in November, the public appears to be shifting to their point of view.”

Race for governor

The poll presented a number of scenarios for a November gubernatorial vote. In a head-to-head matchup, Attorney General Coakley (36 percent) led Baker (29 percent), with 27 percent undecided. The race has closed some since the February poll, when Coakley led Baker 44 percent to 31 percent, with 19 percent undecided.

“Both Coakley and Baker show some softening of support when pitted against one another, and the number of undecided voters is expanding as voters tune in to this race,” said Paleologos. “In every other scenario, Baker beats the Democratic candidate, with the tightest race against Treasurer Steve Grossman.”

The spread between Baker (27 percent) and Grossman (24 percent) is closer than it was this past winter. But a poll of Democratic primary voters shows Coakley (44 percent) with a significant lead over Grossman (12 percent), Donald Berwick (4 percent), Juliette Kayyem (2 percent) and Joseph Avellone (2 percent). Yet nearly a third of voters (32 percent) remain undecided.

Baker faces a single opponent in the September primary and leads Mark Fisher 63 percent to 5 percent, with 30 percent undecided.

Favorability ratings

While voters are shifting their perspectives on the upcoming fall votes, their approval of state and national politicians appears to be unwavering. President Barack Obama is viewed favorably by 52 percent of those polled, a slight increase from the 51 percent who saw him that way in February. Forty-five percent approve of the job he is doing as president, while 44 percent disapprove. A June 2013 Massachusetts poll showed that 47 percent approved of the president’s performance in office.

Elizabeth Warren was the favorite among Massachusetts politicians in this survey, seen in a favorable light by 58 percent, while Deval Patrick had 56 percent, Coakley 53 percent, Ed Markey 47 percent, Baker 33 percent and Grossman 25 percent. The favorable ratings were skewed by the significant numbers who did not know or were undecided about Baker (33 percent) and Grossman (36 percent).

Campaign spending

A 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on election spending changed the money game in politics, with corporations now allowed to spend unlimited amounts on elections, and Massachusetts voters disapprove, with 55 percent saying they oppose super PACs and 67 percent saying that they support legislation on the state and national level to impose stricter regulations on these fairly unrestricted political action committees.

Political conventions

A majority of voters (51 percent) said that they think state party conventions are a waste of money, while 42 percent said that the 15 percent rule--which requires that a candidate receive 15 percent of convention delegates’ support to be placed on the primary ballot—is unfair.


The statewide Suffolk University survey included a field of 800 voters who said they were very or somewhat likely to vote in the 2014 gubernatorial election. The survey was conducted using live telephone interviews of landline and cell phone users from June 4-7, 2014. The margin of error is +/-3.5 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. The margin of error for the Democratic voter subset of 450 voters is +/-4.6, and the margin of error for the Republican voter subset of 202 voters is +/-6.9 percent. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.