Poll: Clinton Leading Sanders in Mass. on Eve of Democratic Primary

Suffolk University survey shows women and non-white voters prefer Clinton, while Sanders attracts youth and independents

With Massachusetts voters going to the polls this Tuesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by 8 points among likely Democratic primary voters, according to a Suffolk University poll conducted Feb. 25 to Feb. 27.

Clinton (50 percent) led Sanders (42 percent) with 9 percent undecided.

“Hillary Clinton is hovering around 50 percent, and while Bernie Sanders has come a long way in Massachusetts since his campaign began to gain traction last November, he’s still just nipping at the edge of the margin of error,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.

A Suffolk University poll conducted this past November put Clinton ahead by 25 points, 54 percent to 29 percent.

“Sanders has captured many undecided voters since then, and Clinton has dropped just below 50 percent,” said Paleologos. “And Sanders is stronger among independents, making their turnout critical to his chances.”

Among registered Democrats, Clinton led 57 percent to 35 percent, but she trailed among independents, 54 percent to 37 percent. Clinton edged Sanders among white voters, 50 percent to 44 percent, but opened up a 51 percent-to-29 percent advantage among non-white voters.

Clinton led among likely Democratic voters over 45 years of age, but Sanders led Clinton among younger voters by 53 percent to 36 percent. Sanders also led Clinton by 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent, in the Western Massachusetts counties, which are closer to his home state of Vermont, but trailed Clinton everywhere else. He led among men 49 percent to 42 percent but trailed among women 55 percent to 36 percent. Women are expected to make up from 56 percent to 60 percent of the Massachusetts Democratic primary electorate on Tuesday.

Candidate popularity

Sanders (71 percent favorable – 16 percent unfavorable) is slightly more popular than Clinton (67 percent favorable – 23 percent unfavorable), according to the poll. Sixty-eight percent of likely Democratic voters say they will definitely vote for their candidate of choice, while 18 percent said they might change their minds before Tuesday.

As expected, Democratic voters looked on many of the Republican candidates unfavorably, including Fla. Sen. Marco Rubio (66 percent unfavorable), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (76 percent unfavorable) and businessman Donald Trump (77 percent unfavorable). However, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is more well regarded among Democratic primary voters, with a net positive rating (42 percent favorable – 27 percent unfavorable).

Democratic perceptions for November

Asked whom they thought would be elected in November, regardless of their personal preference, 51 percent of Democratic voters said Clinton, 16 percent said Republican Donald Trump, and 12 percent predicted Sanders.


The statewide Suffolk University survey was conducted through live interviews of land line and cell phone users. All respondents indicated that they are very likely to vote in the Massachusetts Democratic primary on Tuesday, March 1. The survey of 500 voters was conducted Thursday, Feb. 25, through Saturday, Feb. 27. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percentage points 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, [email protected].


Greg Gatlin 617-573-8428