Survey Shows Massachusetts Patient-to-Nurse Ballot Question Flips to the No Side

Suffolk University/Boston Globe Poll: Voters favor Baker and Warren.

A majority of likely voters in Massachusetts now oppose ballot Question 1, which would establish patient-to-nurse staffing limits, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll – a shift that follows a fierce media campaign that has been unmatched by the yes side.

The poll finds Question 1 is opposed 59 percent to 32 percent, flipping nearly the same margins from the September poll, which showed support by a 52 percent to 33 percent lead. Since September, groups opposed to patient limits, including the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, have spent heavily on advertising.

The downward shift in support for the question between September and October has occurred in all demographics, but most notably among independents, who favored Question 1 by 57 percent to 28 percent (+29) in September but now oppose it by 61 percent to 30 percent (-31), a net change of 60 points. Independents are the largest and most influential voting bloc in the Commonwealth.

Gubernatorial race

Nearly two-thirds of Massachusetts respondents intend to vote for Republican Charlie Baker, the Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll shows. Baker (65 percent) led his Democratic challenger Jay Gonzalez (26 percent) with 8 percent still undecided and 1 percent refusing a response.

“In a state with roughly 11 percent registered Republicans, Baker’s numbers are monumental,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “With a 73 percent job approval and favorability rating, Baker did not take anything for granted and launched an aggressive media blitz in the last four weeks, which appears to have convinced the undecided voters who were on the fence to vote for him.”

In a September poll, Baker led Gonzalez 55 percent to 28 percent with 17 percent undecided.  Since then, the undecided number has dropped 9 percent and Baker has tacked on 10 percent.

U.S. Senate race

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren appears to be cruising to a big re-election win as well, though not by as large of a margin as Baker, according to the poll. Warren has a commanding advantage over her Republican and independent opponents, leading Republican Geoff Diehl by 22 points (56 percent to 34 percent), while 4 percent chose independent Shiva Ayyadurai, and 5 percent are undecided. The race for Senate cuts sharply along gender lines. Among men, the race is tied at 45 percent, while among women, Warren led Diehl 65 percent to 24 percent.

DNA test

Part of Warren’s gender weakness among men might be attributed to her releasing of a DNA test in early October reportedly confirming a Native American ancestor in her pedigree, likely in the range of 6-10 generations ago. When asked whether the test put to rest or raised questions about her Native American ancestry, women by a 52 percent to 23 percent margin said it put questions to rest about her ancestry while men were split with 40 percent saying put to rest and 39 percent saying it raised questions.

President 2020

Despite Warren’s landslide lead in the race for U.S. Senate among all voters, over two-thirds (68 percent) do not want her to run for president in 2020, while less than 1 in 5 (17 percent) want her to seek the nomination. The numbers only improve slightly among Democrats, where 23 percent said she should run and 57 percent said she should not.

Other ballot questions

Question 2, which would establish a citizen’s commission to consider amending the U.S. Constitution to regulate election spending and declare that corporations do not have the same rights as humans, was supported 58 percent to 26 percent.

Question 3, which would retain the current Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, was supported 68 percent to 28 percent, with 4 percent undecided.

Record of polling success

Suffolk University polling has a record of accurately predicting Massachusetts statewide elections since 2010. In the 2014 Massachusetts midterm election, the final Suffolk University poll predicted that Baker would defeat Democrat Martha Coakley by 3 points. Baker won by 2 points. The final Suffolk poll in the 2010 midterm race for governor predicted that Democrat Deval Patrick would defeat Baker by 7 points. Patrick won by 6 points.


The statewide Suffolk University survey was conducted through live interviews of cell phone and land line users. All respondents indicated that they had already voted or were likely to vote in the November midterm election in Massachusetts. The survey of 500 voters was conducted October 24 – October 27. The margin of error is +/-4.4 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 by email, or at 781-290-9310.