Markey widens lead to 12 points in Massachusetts Senate race: poll

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is leading his primary challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), by 12 points, according to a new poll released just one week before the election.

Markey has support of 52 percent of likely Democratic primary voters,  while Kennedy has the backing of 40 percent, according to a UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion poll released Wednesday. The poll found 6 percent of voters are undecided, and 2 percent said they favor another candidate. 

Earlier polls had indicated a close race between the two Democrats. A similar poll in May found Kennedy with 44 percent support compared to 42 percent for Markey, with 10 percent saying they were undecided at the time. 

Markey now has a substantial 38-point lead over Kennedy among voters with college degrees, according to the poll, while the incumbent trails by 15 points among voters without degrees. 

Markey is also leading among younger likely voters, with 59 percent of respondents ages 18 to 44 saying they would vote for Markey, compared to 32 percent who said they would vote for Kennedy. 

“Perhaps the most peculiar thing about this race is that the incumbent has been embraced by the outsider wing of the Democratic Party and the challenger has been characterized as an insider,” Joshua Dyck, director of the Center for Public Opinion and UMass Lowell associate professor of political science, said in a release. “This insider/outsider dynamic comes through clearly in that voters who trust government are much more likely to support Kennedy and those that distrust government are more likely to support Markey.”

If Markey holds on to his seat, which he won in a 2013 special election to replace former Sen. John Kerry (D), Dyck said it would likely be due to Markey’s “ability to avoid the out-of-touch-establishment-elite label.”

The primary has become more heated in recent days, with Kennedy’s campaign manager calling on Markey’s campaign to denounce online attacks and threats against the congressman. Kennedy’s wife, Lauren Kennedy, also addressed the issue, highlighting a tweet that appeared to refer to her as the congressman’s “young widow.” 

Markey’s campaign manager, John Walsh, responded by saying they had denounced the attacks and called on Kennedy’s campaign to focus on “the real injustices people face.” 

A separate Data for Progress poll released this week also found Markey leading Kennedy. That survey found Markey with an 8-point lead, with the senator at 46 percent and the congressman at 38 percent. The poll found an additional 16 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they were “not sure” who they would vote for. 

The new UMass Lowell poll surveyed 800 likely voters in the Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary. The survey was conducted Aug. 13-21. The margin of error is 4.2 percentage points. 

The Data for Progress poll was conducted Aug. 24-25 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Tags Ed Markey Joe Kennedy John Kerry Massachusetts Massachusetts senate race

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