Boston Poll: Wu, Janey Lead Field of Eight in Mayoral Race

Housing seen as No. 1 issue, followed closely by racial justice.

Boston voters appear likely to make history by electing the city’s first-ever female mayor this fall, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of likely September preliminary election voters taken June 23-26.

Of the eight candidates who will appear on the September 14 preliminary election ballot, voters’ top four choices were women: Boston At-Large Councilor Michelle Wu (23%), Acting Mayor Kim Janey (22%), At-Large Councilor Annissa Essaibi George (14%) and District 4 Councilor Andrea Campbell (11%).

Following the top four were State Representative Jon Santiago (5%), former Chief of Economic Development John Barros (2%), and retired Boston police officer Robert Cappucci and North End resident Richard Spagnuolo, who had a combined 1%. Undecided voters still make up a significant portion of the electorate, at 22%.

“Even though September 14 is just the preliminary election, it promises to be a landmark one for Boston,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “With 70% of likely voters already choosing one of the female candidates, it appears the political die has been cast.” The top two vote-getters will face off in the November 2 general election.

Paleologos pointed out that the biggest block of undecided voters is Hispanics, at 33%, adding that “frontrunners have a real opportunity to make their case to this group of voters.”

"If the preliminary election for Boston mayor was held today, for whom would you vote or toward whom do you lean at this time?"
Suffolk University/Boston Globe Poll June 29, 2021

Voters appeared enthusiastic about the diverse slate of candidates, with 65% saying that electing a woman to the office of mayor is “very/somewhat” important. A similar percentage said it was “very/somewhat” important to elect a Black candidate or another person of color.

Voters’ top issues include housing (20%), racism/justice/equality (19%), schools/education (18%), economy/jobs (14%) and crime (11%). Nearly half of voters said that the next mayor should focus on an affordable housing strategy, even if that means less housing overall.

Differing Strengths

Poll results point to different strengths among the top four candidates, said Paleologos.

Wu enjoys widespread support across many demographics and has the highest favorability in the field. Her competitive edge is driven by those identifying as “very liberal” (57%) and by Asian-American voters (46%).

Janey leads among black voters (42%) and also among those ages 65 or older (26%), an important city election base.

George is the top vote getter among those who say crime is the most important issue (45%), those who have household members who work in public safety (34%) and those who identify as conservative (24%).

Campbell leads among households with school-age children (24%), and is close to the frontrunners in minority area precincts.

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