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WBUR Mayor’s Race Poll: Connolly Leads, Closely Followed By Walsh

Education cited as biggest problem facing Boston, may be a deciding issue

BOSTON, Sept. 19, 2013 – With only days to go before the preliminary election on Tuesday, a new WBUR Poll shows City Councilor John Connolly narrowly leading the pack of contenders in the Boston mayor’s race. Fifteen percent of likely voters support Connolly, followed by 12 percent for state Representative Marty Walsh. Rounding out the top five are former state Representative Charlotte Golar Richie (10 percent), Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley (8 percent) and City Councilor Felix Arroyo (also at 8 percent).

The lead for Connolly echoes recent poll findings, including a Boston Herald/Suffolk University Poll released yesterday showing Connolly in the lead with 16 percent support and a Boston Globe poll released last week.  The ordering of other candidates has varied somewhat between the three polls. 90.9 WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station, commissioned nonpartisan MassINC Polling Group to survey nearly 500 likely voters in the November mayoral election. Nearly one in five likely voters remain undecided at this point in the race.

Likely voters said that the three biggest problems facing the city were education (24 percent), crime (22 percent) and the economy/jobs (17 percent). Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group who conducted the WBUR Poll, surmises that Connolly’s success may in part be due to his laser-like focus on education.

“Connolly is leading by 15 points over Walsh among those who call education the most important issue, and the highest number of people said it was the top issue,” said Koczela. “So his relentless focus on education is paying dividends. Among voters focused on the other two top issues, crime and the economy, no candidate has broken through.”

In this competitive election with so many mayoral candidates, geography may also help to illuminate prospective outcomes. The survey carved Boston into four regions, and the polling data show Connolly as the only candidate to register double-digit support across all four. By comparison, Dorchester’s Walsh performed best in his home territory, garnering 25 percent of the vote in the region that included Dorchester, East Boston and South Boston, yet he didn’t yield double-digit results in any of the other three regions. With regard to gender, Connolly was the top vote-getter among men (18 percent), but edged by Richie (14 percent), who leads among women.

The poll also explored opinions around the proposed casino development on Suffolk Downs in East Boston, and found opinion closely divided between supporters (47 percent) and opponents (44 percent). Survey participants were also asked whether all city residents or just the residents of East Boston should be able to vote on the proposal. A significant majority, 70 percent, felt that all Boston residents should be able to vote on this issue.

About the WBUR Poll:

Results are based on a survey of 487 likely voters in the September 2013 preliminary election for mayor in Boston. The poll was conducted September 14-16, 2013. Live telephone interviews were conducted via both landline and cell phone, using conventional registration-based sampling procedures. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 4.4 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. The poll was sponsored by WBUR, the NPR station in the Boston area.

For the complete WBUR Poll, including topline findings and crosstab results, visit


About 90.9 WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station: One of the nation’s most successful public radio stations, WBUR produces national programs On Point, Here & Now, Only A Game and Car Talk, reaching millions of listeners on NPR stations across the United States and online. Located on Commonwealth Avenue at Boston University, WBUR has the largest radio newsroom in New England, dedicated to covering topics that matter in Boston, across Massachusetts and throughout the region.

About the MassINC Polling Group: The MassINC Polling Group (MPG) is an independent, nonpartisan organization providing public opinion research and analysis to public, private and social sector clients. MPG is a full-service opinion polling operation offering strategic consultation, a wide-ranging suite of analytical products and high-level communication and outreach planning.  For more information, visit


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