UMass poll: Primary’s down-ballot races unsettled

  • UMass Amherst campus Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

Published: 9/1/2022 8:01:49 PM
Modified: 9/1/2022 7:58:11 PM

AMHERST — While state Attorney General Maura Healey all but locked up the Democratic party’s nomination for governor when her closest opponent ended her campaign earlier this summer, a new University of Massachusetts Amherst / WCVB Poll released today finds uncertainty surrounds a number of the party’s down-ballot races heading into the Sept. 6 primaries.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the 500 likely Democratic primary voters surveyed support Healey for the commonwealth’s top office when including leaners, consolidating what was already a substantial 30-point lead in a previous UMass/WCVB Poll, conducted in June.

“While Healey is poised to win the Democratic nomination for governor, the rest of the statewide races are less settled,” says Tatishe Nteta, UMass professor of political science and director of the poll. “As the campaigns for attorney general, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and auditor come into the final stretch, large swaths of the commonwealth’s Democratic electorate remain undecided in each of these races, making any lead tenuous at best.”

“There’s still a great deal of uncertainty about down-ballot primary races, despite the fact that several of these races are hotly contested and have involved big campaign expenditures,” says Jesse Rhodes, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and associate director of the poll.

In the race for the party’s nod for lieutenant governor, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll has 31% of the support of Democratic voters including leaners, a 14-point increase in her support since June, while state Sen. Eric Lesser and state Rep. Tami Gouveia carry 17% and 15% support, respectively. Driscoll’s overall 14-point lead over Lesser, her closest competition in the race, marks an expansion of what was a five-point lead in June, but more than one-third (37%) of those polled said they don’t know who they will support next week.

“Despite the millions of dollars being spent in the lieutenant governor’s race, many voters are scratching their heads about how to vote,” says Raymond La Raja, professor of political science at UMass and associate director of the poll.

Incumbent Secretary of State William Galvin, in his seventh term and 27th year in the position, has also improved upon his lead over Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, boasting a 49-30 advantage when including leaners. While Sullivan’s support has risen five points since June, Galvin’s rose 11 points. One-fifth (20%) of those polled were undecided, down from 37% in June.

The race to replace Healey as attorney general has seen attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan overcome a 10-point deficit (21-11) in June to take a slim one-point lead (29-28) over former Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell. The percentage of undecided voters in this race has been nearly halved since June, from 59% to 31%.

The new poll also finds a dead heat in the race for state auditor, which was not polled in June. Former Assistant Secretary of Transportation Christopher Dempsey and state Sen. Diana DiZoglio are tied with 26% support each, although nearly half (48%) of those surveyed said they don’t know which candidate they’ll vote for on Tuesday.

Overall, 88% of the poll’s respondents expressed satisfaction with the slate of Democratic candidates running for statewide office this year.

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