Boston Poll: Wu Extends Lead in Mayoral Race

Tight field for second place, as education moves to top issue

Michelle Wu has increased her lead in the Boston mayoral race and appears headed toward the November final election, while three other women are locked in a tight race to oppose her, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of likely September preliminary election voters taken September 2-4.

Of the eight candidates who will appear on the September 14 preliminary election ballot, 88% of voters selected one of the four women who will officially make history in November: Frontrunner At-Large Councilor Wu led the field with 31%, an improvement of 8 points since the June Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll.

With a week to go before the preliminary election, where only two candidates will advance to the November election, the race for second place is nearly deadlocked. Acting Mayor Kim Janey (20%) edges At-Large Councilor Annissa Essaibi George (19%) and District 4 Councilor Andrea Campbell (18%) in a tight race. George and Campbell improved by 5 and 7 points, respectively, while Janey dropped 2 points.

Following the top four were former Chief of Economic Development John Barros (3%), while retired Boston police officer Robert Cappucci, North End resident Richard Spagnuolo, and State Representative Jon Santiago, who withdrew from the race even though he is still listed on the ballot, had a combined 1%. Undecided voters now make up 8% of the likely voter electorate, down from 22% in June.

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 September 7, 2021

“It appears that half of the November equation has been determined,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “The race for second place will not only be determined by undecided voters and the respective get-out-the-vote efforts by the candidates, but also by soft Wu voters who may opt to vote for their second choice instead in order to control the selection of both finalists.”

Paleologos pointed out that the biggest block of undecided voters are Black voters (15%), many of whom are torn between Janey and Campbell, as well as those with a high school degree or less (14%), Hispanics (14%), and those working part-time (13%).

Education (20%) is now the No. 1 issue impacting the vote for mayor, followed by housing (19%), racism/justice/equality (17%), and economy/jobs (14%).

Paleologos summarized the strengths of each of the candidates with a week to go.

Wu is lighting up the demographic board by winning 70% of Asian-American voters, 50% of residents who have lived in Boston for 10 years or less, 45% of those with a master’s or Ph.D. degree, 43% who self-identify as “very liberal,” and 40% of young voters ages 18-34.

Citywide, Acting Mayor Janey has 61% overall job approval and 64% approval on the handling of the coronavirus. Her positions on masks and vaccinations are supported by over 80% of voters, even though that support has not directly translated into a larger share of first-choice votes. However, Janey leads all candidates among Black voters (46%), voters with some/partial college education or less (30%), and among those ages 65 or older (26%), an important city election base.

George is crushing the field among those who say crime is the most important issue (56%), public safety households (40%), conservatives (35%), and those planning to vote in person on election day (27%). Some of these categories overlap, and the introduction of an added block of these voters not polled could shake up the race and vault her into the No. 2 spot.

Campbell has high citywide popularity — second only to Wu — with a 63% favorable to 12% unfavorable rating, and is the top “second choice” of all voters at 23%. Among Wu voters, Campbell earns 43% as a second choice, far outdistancing all others. Although she is still polling fourth among the top four contenders, she is within striking distance of the second spot, and may have benefited from the Boston Globe endorsement, released prior to the fielding of the poll.

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