New UMass Poll Shows Walsh Taking Lead Over Connolly in Boston Mayoral Race

State rep. comes from behind to lead city councilor 47-40 among registered voters

AMHERST, Mass. – The results of a new UMass Poll released today by the University of Massachusetts Amherst shows state Rep. Martin J. Walsh with a seven-point lead over Boston City Councilor at Large John R. Connolly among registered Boston voters in advance of the Boston mayoral election on Nov. 5. The UMass Poll confirms that voter support has swung from Connolly to Walsh in the final days of the campaign.

With leaners included, likely voters prefer Walsh over Connolly 47 percent to 40 percent, a lead that is outside the 5.9 percent margin of error for the poll. With less than a week to go in the campaign, 13 percent of likely voters remain undecided.

“No matter how you define ‘likely voters,’ our poll shows that Walsh has capitalized on a couple of strong weeks of campaigning to vault out in front as the clear leader in this race,” said Brian Schaffner, chair of the political science department at UMass Amherst and director of the UMass Poll.

The telephone poll conducted Oct. 22-26 included interviews with 600 registered voters sampled from a list of registered voters in the city of Boston. The sample included both landline and cell phones.

Union members overwhelmingly favor Walsh, may be driving voter outreach

·         Union members decidedly break for Walsh, with 61 percent of union households planning to vote for Walsh compared to 30 percent for Connolly. Non-union households are evenly divided between the candidates, 43-43.

Union support may also be helping Walsh with his ground game, as likely voters are much more likely to have been contacted by the Walsh campaign than by Connolly’s campaign. More than half of the respondents, 52 percent, indicated that they had not received any contact from the Connolly campaign, while only 38 percent stated that they had not been contacted by the Walsh campaign.

Raymond La Raja, associate director of the UMass Poll: The poll suggests that labor unions may have been working overtime at the phone banks for Walsh. More voters report being contacted by his campaign.”

Richie endorsement may prove vital for Walsh

·         Former mayoral candidate Charlotte Golar Richie’s endorsement of Walsh seems to be paying dividends late in the campaign.  Likely voters who voted for Richie in the preliminary election now favor Walsh by a 17 point margin over Connolly, 52-35. Her endorsement may also be helping Walsh win over women. While men are evenly divided between Connolly and Walsh, 45-45, women decisively favor Walsh over Connolly 49-35. 

Schaffner: “The endorsements by Richie and City Councilor Felix Arroyo gave Walsh a big boost. Polls earlier this month showed Richie’s supporters favoring Connolly, but our poll now shows a major advantage for Walsh among her voters.”

Walsh leads among most voter demographics

·         Walsh is doing particularly well among younger voters (61-24), renters (57-34), parents with children in Boston schools (60-34), and people who have lived in Boston for 10 years or longer (50-38). He also maintains substantial leads among registered Democrats (49-37) and independents (52-38), and voters who label themselves as ideological conservatives (61-34) or liberals (48-37).

The only demographic groups indicating clear support for Connolly are voters with education beyond a college degree (43-37) and with incomes over $100,000 (45-34), registered Republicans (80-16) and voters who have lived in Boston for less than 10 years (46-42). Voters who label themselves as ideologically moderate split evenly.

Walsh leads on most issues

·         When voters were asked which candidate they trusted more to handle several different issues facing the city, Connolly was seen as more trusted only on the issue of education, while Walsh was favored when it came to crime, mass transit, affordable housing and the economy.

La Raja: Connolly has made education his signature issue and people like him here, but it may have cost him votes. On other key urban issues—crime, jobs, mass transit and affordable housing—he faces big gaps with Walsh.”

Dorchester Ave. vs. State Street

·         When voters were asked which candidate would do a better job of representing various groups of people, Walsh was seen as the better candidate for the poor, the middle class, unions, Latinos and African Americans. Connolly was seen as better at representing the wealthy and business owners. Reflecting this sentiment, Walsh is favored among voters earning less than $50,000 per year (62-31) and those making $50,000-$100,000 (53-43), while those earning over $100,000 per year break for Connolly, 45-34.

Schaffner: “It appears that Walsh has successfully grabbed the mantle of the candidate for the poor and middle class, while Connolly is viewed as supportive of wealthier Bostonians. Unfortunately for Connolly, those middle class voters may prove decisive.”

Recent school bus labor dispute boosts Walsh’s numbers

·         When it comes to handling labor disputes in Boston such as the recent school bus driver strike, voters favor Walsh over Connolly by a two-to-one margin, 54-27.

The UMass Poll is committed to studying public opinion in Massachusetts and the United States to inform policy making in the Commonwealth and beyond. It is directed by Brian Schaffner along with associate directors Maryann Barakso, Ray La Raja and Tatishe Nteta.

This telephone poll of 600 registered Boston voters (405 likely voters) was conducted Oct. 22-26 by YouGov America under the direction of UMass Poll at the University of Massachusetts Amherst ( The sample was drawn by taking a stratified sample from the city of Boston list of registered voters. Interviewers were instructed to interview only the person listed in the sample.

The survey was weighted in two stages. First, propensity score weights were assigned based on age, gender, race, and party registration using the voter file for city of Boston as the frame. Then, weights were post-stratified by ideology, phone type (cell phone only vs. all others), educational attainment, turnout in 2012 based on information from the voter list, vote turnout and choice in the mayoral primary.

The margin of error is 5.3 percent for the full sample and 5.9 percent for likely voters. The margin will be larger for subgroups.