New Jersey bellwethers project that Democrat Phil Murphy is the leader in the governor’s race, according to a Suffolk University bellwether poll of tightly screened voters in Atlantic, Burlington, and Middlesex counties.

Meanwhile, bellwethers in the Virginia gubernatorial were inconclusive. And in Boston, bellwethers showed incumbent Mayor Martin Walsh with a commanding lead.

New Jersey governor’s race

In Atlantic County, N.J., Murphy led Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno 43 percent to 34 percent; in Burlington County he led 51 percent to 33 percent; and he was ahead 48 percent to 30 percent in Middlesex County.

“It’s very difficult to dominate in three out of three bellwethers for any contest,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “Voter turnout ultimately will determine the outcome. However, given what we know now, these are strong statistical signals that all indicate the same result.”

Virginia governor’s race

The three areas selected in Virginia – the city of Chesapeake and Loudoun and Caroline counties – differ on the gubernatorial winner, with Loudoun County and the city of Chesapeake giving Democrat Ralph Northam the edge, while Caroline county shows Republican Ed Gillespie in the lead.

In the city of Chesapeake, Northam led Gillespie 44 percent to 39 percent, and in Loudoun County he led Gillespie 48 percent to 34 percent. However, in Caroline county, Gillespie topped Northam 40 percent to 37 percent.

Last week, a statewide poll conducted by Suffolk University showed Northam with a 4-point lead, well within the statistical margin of error.

Boston mayoral contest

Mayor Martin Walsh is poised for reelection, according to the two Boston bellwethers selected: Ward 1 (East Boston), and Ward 10 (Mission Hill). Walsh led City Councilor Tito Jackson 65 percent to 26 percent in Ward 1, and, in Ward 10, Walsh was ahead 60 percent to 27 percent.

In his first race in 2013, Marty Walsh prevailed over then-City Councilor John Connolly by 4 points.

The bellwether model

A bellwether is an area of a state that closely mirrors a statewide electoral outcome based on similar election types, previous elections and other key data. The proprietary model used by the Suffolk University Political Research Center has been 89 percent accurate in predicting outcomes since 2002. However, it is not designed to predict margin of victory. All bellwether analyses carry a margin of error similar to a statewide poll.

In past elections when three bellwethers were selected and all three identified the same winner, this model has been 100 percent accurate in predicting the outright winner.


Using voter lists from the eight designated areas, the bellwether ID respondents were interviewed after the implementation of a tight screen to filter out voters who weren't certain to vote. The field was conducted Wednesday, Nov. 1, through Sunday, Nov. 5. The margin of error is +/- 5.65 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence for each area. Bellwethers are designed to predict outcomes, not margins. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310,