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New UMass Amherst / WCVB Poll Finds an Independent Kennedy Candidacy Pulls More Voters from Trump than Biden in 2024

Statewide survey also finds strong support for potential ballot initiatives and election reforms, high approval for Sen. Elizabeth Warren as she seeks a third term

Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at

Almost one year away from the 2024 presidential election, a new statewide UMass Amherst / WCVB Poll finds President Joe Biden well-positioned to once again carry traditionally blue Massachusetts in a likely rematch with Donald Trump and that a potential independent candidacy by Robert Kennedy Jr. would actually pull more votes from the former president than from the current commander-in-chief.

The survey of 700 Massachusetts residents conducted Oct. 13-20 also finds overwhelming support for a full slate of potential ballot initiatives that voters may see in the voting booth on Nov. 5, 2024, as well as support for age limits on U.S. senators and continued calls for election reforms in the Bay State.

“Massachusetts has not voted for a Republican candidate since the re-election campaign of Ronald Reagan, making the commonwealth one of the bluest states in the nation,” says Tatishe Nteta, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and director of the UMass Poll. “So, it comes as no surprise that in a hypothetical matchup between the incumbent, President Joe Biden, and former President Donald Trump that Biden enjoys a commanding lead over his political rival, 43-21. What might come as a shock – and serve as a warning to the Trump campaign – is the political popularity of Robert Kennedy Jr., the son of the former U.S. senator and presidential candidate.

2024 Presidential Election - Massachusetts


Joe Biden


Donald Trump


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.


Not Sure


Would Not Vote

“While his campaign has been disowned by many in his family,” Nteta continues, “the Kennedy name still holds some sway in the Bay State, with Kennedy Jr. garnering 17% of the vote. What is more alarming to the Trump campaign is that while Kennedy Jr., whose family has long been affiliated with the Democratic Party, attracts 9% of 2020 Biden voters, he now enjoys support from 20% of 2020 Trump voters, potentially posing a true threat to Trump’s path to the White House. Whether these trends are seen outside of the commonwealth remains to be seen, but in 2024 a Kennedy may once again help to defeat a Republican presidential candidate.”

Down the ballot, Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be seeking her third term representing the Bay State and one year out she holds a solid 55% approval rating among the new survey’s respondents.

“With the state Republican Party in relative disarray, it remains to be seen if Sen. Warren will face a viable and formidable Republican challenger,” Nteta says. “As voters in the state contemplate whether to re-elect Warren to the U.S. Senate most clearly view her positively, as evidenced by her high approval ratings and the multitude of laudatory words to describe her, including ‘good,’ ‘strong,’ ‘smart,’ ‘passionate’ and ‘great.’ While the senator has her detractors, and their views are also represented in her word cloud, the road to re-election looks promising for the 74-year-old incumbent senator.”

Tatishe Nteta

While Kennedy Jr., whose family has long been affiliated with the Democratic Party, attracts 9% of 2020 Biden voters, he now enjoys support from 20% of 2020 Trump voters, potentially posing a true threat to Trump’s path to the White House.

Tatishe Nteta, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and director of the UMass Poll

However, Jesse Rhodes, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and co-director of the UMass Poll, notes that one potential hurdle facing Warren – as well as her colleague Sen. Ed Markey – is age.

“Massachusetts residents overwhelmingly support a maximum age limit to serve in the U.S. Senate,” Rhodes says. “Rather than representing a negative commentary on the commonwealth’s two senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, this strong sentiment should be understood as reflecting broader frustration with our aging ruling class. Indeed, this sentiment is in line with national attitudes, which reveal similar support for a maximum age limit for federal offices. As both Massachusetts and national polls suggest, Americans are very concerned that our aging leadership class is out of touch with the concerns of a younger, more diverse America.”

“While both Warren and Markey enjoy strong approval ratings from residents of the Bay State, both senators are currently in their 70s,” Nteta says. “If both Markey and Warren are re-elected, they will be in their 80s by the end of their terms. With greater attention being paid to the age, physical well-being and mental acuity of members of the U.S. Senate, 3-in-4 citizens of Massachusetts (76%) express support for a constitutional amendment that would establish a maximum age to serve in the Senate. Unlike many political issues in the Bay State, on the question of whether the nation should pass this constitutional amendment, the young and the old, the wealthy and working class, Republicans, Democrats, independents, Trump and Biden voters, and liberals, conservatives and moderates all resoundingly agree that a constitutional change is needed. Whether such an amendment becomes a reality is still to be seen, but the history of successful constitutional amendments has demonstrated that where there is a political will there may be a way forward.”

Ballot Initiatives and Potential Election Reforms

The new UMass Amherst / WCVB Poll also asked respondents about their views on a number of ballot initiatives that may be put to the vote next November, and each one received solid majority support.

“In recent years, voters in the state have single-handedly legalized marijuana and increased taxes on millionaires living in the commonwealth and voters in 2024 may have the opportunity to further shape the future of the state through the ballot box,” Nteta says. “While the Massachusetts Legislature, Gov. Maura Healey and local elected officials debate how to tackle the housing crisis, strong majorities of citizens (64%) favor rent control to address skyrocketing rents in the state. As election reforms continue to stall in the Legislature year and after year, two-thirds (66%) of residents express support for same-day voter registration. With standardized tests increasingly falling out of favor with the general public, more than half (52%) of voters in the Bay State are willing to eliminate the requirement that high school students pass the MCAS to graduate and receive their diploma. Finally, as the state experiences extreme weather due to a changing climate, 6-in-10 citizens support new ‘green’ tax credits and rebates to incentivize the purchase of electric cars and to offset the cost of installing energy-efficient home systems.

“Next year,” he says, “voters will once again have an opportunity to directly shape the state’s democracy, and our results suggest that if these questions get on the ballot, that voters will take that opportunity and run.”

Another initiative that the survey’s respondents strongly favor is an issue that has been roiling Beacon Hill for months and threatens to be settled in the courts.

“Newly elected State Auditor Diana DiZoglio has elicited not only disdain, but outright defiance from leaders in the Massachusetts Legislature who have rebuffed her attempts to audit their work,” Nteta says. “Rather than continue to seek to persuade the Legislature to agree to an audit, DiZoglio has sought to take her case directly to the people of the Bay State. Residents seemingly support the auditor’s efforts, as close to 7-in-10 respondents indicated that they would vote for a ballot question forcing the Legislature to conduct an audit to assess performance and improve the governing body. This ballot question is popular among Republicans (61%), Democrats (74%) and Independents (57%). In the political tug-of-war between the Legislature and the auditor, our results suggest that it may be a matter of time before DiZoglio gets her way and the Legislature will be audited for the first time since 1922.”

Jesse Rhodes

Make the ballot accessible again. Massachusetts residents strongly support reforms to make voting easier, including policies that have been considered and rejected by the Legislature.

Jesse Rhodes, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and co-director of the UMass Poll

Rhodes also notes the popularity of a number of election reforms about which respondents were asked.

“Make the ballot accessible again,” he says. “Massachusetts residents strongly support reforms to make voting easier, including policies that have been considered and rejected by the Legislature. While the General Assembly has repeatedly passed on same-day registration – a policy that would allow Massachusetts residents to register and vote on Election Day or during early voting – this reform is hugely popular in the state, with more than 70% of residents expressing support. Nearly three quarters (73%) of Massachusetts residents also support making Election Day a state holiday, so that more people, particularly those with irregular work schedules or extensive child or elder care responsibilities, can vote. Two thirds (67%) of Massachusetts residents also support joining the handful of states nationwide that have some form of ranked choice voting. All this suggests that Massachusetts residents believe that making the ballot more accessible should be a priority for the state Legislature.”

Rhodes also says the poll shows the potential to re-enfranchise the votes of the commonwealth’s incarcerated.

“Is this an idea whose time has come?” he asks. “Fifty percent of Massachusetts residents now support allowing currently incarcerated people to vote. Although the idea may seem strange, two other New England states – Maine and Vermont – allow people serving criminal sentences to vote. Although it remains to be seen whether this policy will be enacted in the commonwealth, the fact that 50% of Massachusetts residents support this idea is a strong indicator of how important ballot access is to voters in the state.”

Ultimately, Rhodes believes that the potential for reform in the Bay State will grow from the young.

“When it comes to reform, age matters a lot,” he explains. “Younger Massachusetts residents are much more likely to support major ballot initiatives than are older residents. This is especially so for ballot initiatives that would likely benefit younger people the most, such as proposals to enact same-day registration and empower communities to regulate housing markets to drive down prices. Young people are also especially supportive of establishing a maximum age limit for service in the Senate. All this points to frustration among young people with the status quo, and a desire for significant changes in how the state and nation do business.”

In general, however, Rhodes says that the new poll shows that “Massachusetts residents are in a reformist mood,” expressing strong support for a variety of possible ballot initiatives that would institute significant changes to education, elections, environmental policy and more.

“Beacon Hill may want to take notice,” he says, “as this sentiment could also be interpreted as an indication of frustration with the perceived unresponsiveness of state officials.”


This University of Massachusetts Amherst / WCVB Poll of 700 respondents from Massachusetts was conducted by YouGov Oct. 13-20. YouGov interviewed 788 total respondents who were then matched down to a sample of 700 to produce the final dataset. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race and education. The sampling frame is a politically representative “modeled frame” of U.S. adults, based upon the American Community Survey (ACS) public use microdata file, public voter file records, the 2020 Current Population Survey (CPS) Voting and Registration supplements, the 2020 National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll and the 2020 CES surveys, including demographics and 2020 presidential vote.

The matched cases were weighted to the sampling frame using propensity scores. The matched cases and the frame were combined and a logistic regression was estimated for inclusion in the frame. The propensity score function included age, gender, race/ethnicity years of education and home ownership status (own/rent/other). The propensity scores were grouped into deciles of the estimated propensity score in the frame and post-stratified according to these deciles. The weights were then post-stratified on 2020 presidential vote choice, home ownership status (3-categories), a two-way stratification of age (4-categories) and race (4-categories), as well as a four-way stratification of gender, age (4-categories), race (4-categories) and education (4-categories).

The margin of error within this poll is 5.1%.

Topline results and crosstabs for the poll can be found at


Increasing low-income housing, converting office buildings, rent control and “right to shelter” laws all find support in new survey of issues facing the commonwealth.