Poll: Green New Deal Lead Senate Sponsor Ed Markey Underwater in Massachusetts, Joe Kennedy Leads by 17 in Primary

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) speaks during a news conference discussing the EPA's new affordable clean energy rule on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Environmental Protection Agency issued a new carbon emissions rule that replaces the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) is trailing a potential challenger inside the Democrat Party by 17 percent a year away from the election, a horrendous sign for the incumbent leftist senator and for those with whom he has been cavorting on federal policy proposals.

Markey is the lead Senate sponsor of the Green New Deal environmentalist plan hatched by socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), a proposal that went down in flames on the Senate floor earlier this year. But the fact that he is polling so badly in Massachusetts, trailing Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA)–the grandson of former Attorney General Bobby Kennedy–by well into double digits, is a bad sign for the left flank of the Democrat Party.

Markey, at 25 percent, trails Kennedy’s 42 percent–with businessman Steve Pemberton at 7 percent and attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan at 5 percent–in the new Change Research survey published by Commonwealth magazine this week.

Commonwealth wrote:

When respondents were pressed to make a choice, Kennedy garnered 42 percent support compared to Markey’s 25 percent. Businessman Steve Pemberton earned 7 percent and attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan got 5 percent. Without leaners, Kennedy’s 17-point lead is slightly diminished, as 31 percent of respondents said they would back Kennedy compared to 19 percent supporting Markey.

The survey obtained by CommonWealth was conducted by Change Research, a San Francisco area firm that has worked on behalf of Democratic candidates and causes as well as the NAACP and the AFL-CIO, according to its website. The poll was commissioned by Education Reform Now Advocacy, which tacked the horse race and other political questions onto a bigger poll gauging voters’ temperature about education policy issues.

Unlike a traditional telephone poll, Change Research conducted its research online, and weighted its results based on demographics as well as the 2016 vote.

The margin of error for the Democratic primary was 3.5 percentage points, and the margin for general election questions was 3.1 percentage points, according to the pollster. Change Research is led by Mike Greenfield, who was the first data scientist at PayPal and LinkedIn, and the firm advertises affordable and accurate digital polling.

Run from August 23-25, the poll of 1,008 registered Massachusetts voters captured their feelings about the burgeoning US Senate race about a week after news broke that Kennedy might challenge Markey in the primary, but just before Kennedy publicly confirmed those news stories with a Facebook post on Monday. A total of 808 respondents weighed in on the Democratic primary.

Kennedy is the latest member of perhaps what is America’s most powerful political family to rise to a national place of prominence. His grandfather was the Attorney General of the United States when his grandfather’s brother John F. Kennedy was President of the United States. John F. Kennedy was assassinated as president, and Robert Kennedy was assassinated when he was later running for president himself. Their third brother, Ted Kennedy, was the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for many years. Many other members of the Kennedy family have served in key positions throughout government in Congress, both the House and Senate, and in other facets of public life.

Now a third-term Congressman, Joe Kennedy III delivered the official Democrat response to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address in 2018.

He took criticism for something that appeared to be glazed on the corner of his mouth during that response speech. But Kennedy has been continually rising inside the ranks of the Democrat Party in the lead-up to this, and since then.

This new Change Research poll reported on by Commonwealth magazine also has some interesting information for Republicans in Massachusetts. GOP Gov. Charlie Baker actually leads Markey at this time according to the survey, 45 percent to 44 percent. Against Kennedy, though, Baker trails 49 percent to 41 percent–not an insurmountable hurdle for a popular GOP governor in a deep blue state. Baker has been an interesting case study as governor of the Bay State. He has been very anti-Trump as governor, and has raced to the middle to cut deals with Democrats on a number of matters. But to win the governor’s mansion the first time around, he campaigned hard against illegal immigration–telling Breitbart News in an exclusive interview in September 2014 that illegal immigration is a problem in Massachusetts.

Baker said in the September 2014 interview:

Number one, the inability of the federal government to deal with illegal immigration is a policy problem in Washington, but it’s a very different and much more direct and immediate issue for state leaders and local leaders such as mayors and other local officials because they end up dealing with the consequences of not having an immigration policy at the federal level that works. During the past seven years, while state spending has gone up by billions of dollars, the state has cut local aid to cities and towns by hundreds of millions of dollars–which has made it very difficult for cities and towns to do what they need to do to ensure public safety, education, basic services and all the rest.

There is a pathway for Republicans, under the exact right circumstances, to win statewide office in Massachusetts. While the former Massachusetts GOP governor Mitt Romney bowed out of running for the Senate against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in the state in which he was previously governor last cycle to instead carpet-bag his way into a U.S. Senate seat in Utah, that seat was previously held by a Republican. Former Sen. Scott Brown, who’s now President Trump’s ambassador to New Zealand, defeated the very same Democrat Martha Coakley that Baker would later defeat in his first run for governor after the Joe Kennedy’s great uncle Ted Kennedy passed away vacating the seat. Warren later beat Brown for the seat in a hard-fought battle between the two.

In a presidential year, however, with Trump facing off against whoever win the Democrat nomination, it would be extraordinarily difficult for a Republican to pull off an upset even against the highly unpopular Markey.

Markey’s sharp dip in the polls comes after earlier this year he threw in league with Ocasio-Cortez, becoming the lead Senate sponsor of the Green New Deal. Back in March, the Senate blocked the the proposal when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the plan up for a vote. Forty-three Democrats voted present, while 57 senators in a bipartisan fashion voted down the Green New Deal.

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