Suffolk University Poll Shows Markey Leading Kennedy by 10 Points in Senate Primary

Incumbent leads challenger 51 percent to 41 percent among likely Democratic voters

In an unprecedented Massachusetts Democratic primary where more than a half million voters have already cast mail-in ballots, incumbent Senator Ed Markey leads challenger Congressman Joe Kennedy 51 percent to 41 percent with 8 percent undecided, according to a Suffolk University poll of likely Democratic voters taken August 23-25.

Markey trailed Kennedy by 14 points in September of 2019 and by 6 points in February of this year. Since that time Markey has secured key newspaper, union, and legislative endorsements including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the progressive “squad” and the House cosponsor of the Green New Deal.

“A word of caution about this Democratic primary,” warned David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “This is an unprecedented election with a half million votes already cast and no real guidance as to how many will show up at the polls next Tuesday.”

Markey led 56 percent to 35 percent among men, 47 percent to 45 percent among women, 56 percent to 37 percent among white voters, 62 percent to 32 percent among registered Democrats, and a similar margin of 62 percent to 32 percent among the 106 respondents who have already voted.

Kennedy led Markey 54 percent to 35 percent among non-white voters, 56 percent to 32 percent among independents, 59 percent to 35 percent among those earning $50,000 or less, and 54 percent to 36 percent among those with a high school degree or some college with no degree.

The November election

When likely Democratic voters were asked who they would support among the four choices listed on the Massachusetts ballot, 77 percent stayed true to the party nominee Joe Biden, while 10 percent said they would vote for Donald Trump, 2 percent each would opt for Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins and Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, respectively, and 7 percent were undecided.

Despite low appeal for the third party candidates, over 60 percent said they believed both third party candidates should be allowed to participate in the presidential debates this fall.

When respondents were asked “in your gut” whether they thought Donald Trump would be re-elected, over 19 percent indicated yes and 68 percent said no.

COVID-19 vaccine

As pharmaceutical companies worldwide scramble to test various vaccines for COVID-19, the Democratic electorate is less optimistic that a vaccine will be developed before the end of the year. Just 26 percent said they thought a vaccine would be discovered by the end of 2020, while 67 percent said no.


The statewide Suffolk University surveys were conducted through live interviews of cell phone and landline users. All respondents indicated that they were likely voters or had already voted in the September 1 Democratic primary election. Each survey of 500 voters was conducted August 23 – August 25. 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].