Poll: Tight Senate Primary Race Between Ed Markey, Joe Kennedy

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., left, and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, D-Mass., right front, participate in a roundtable discussion, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, in Boston, on the impact of a cap on refugee admissions to the U.S. for fiscal 2020. Massachusetts refugee resettlement agencies are urging the Trump administration …
Steven Senne/AP Photo

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) has gained a slight edge over his challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), in the Massachusetts Senate primary race, according to a poll released Friday.

The poll, conducted July 29–30 by JMC Analytics, shows Markey ahead of Kennedy by four points, 40 percent to 36 percent; although this lead is within the poll’s margin of error of 4.4 percent, placing the candidates in a statistical tie.

The poll results reflect a dramatic shift from last August, when Kennedy first signaled he was running and a Change Research survey revealed Markey trailing his potential challenger by well into the double digits.

While Kennedy, a fourth-term congressman and descendant of one of the country’s most influential political families, had since held frontrunner status throughout his campaign, recent missteps have occurred at a critical point in the election, where voting for the September 1 primary begins as early as next week through mail-in ballots.

As the Boston Herald reported, Kennedy last weekend mistakenly accused Markey of being absent from towns that no longer exist, and he recently released an anti-establishment ad that quickly backfired on him because of his own establishment ties within his family.

Markey, for his part, has made up for lost ground by securing high-profile endorsements such as that of his colleague, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY); the Boston Globe editorial board; “Squad” member and cosponsor — alongside Markey — of the failed Green New Deal, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY); and election mega-donor and climate change activist Tom Steyer.

The two candidates are virtually even in fundraising at the close of the second quarter, and with Kennedy no longer dominating the race, he faces the prospect of being the first in his family of politicians to lose a Massachusetts election. The Kennedy campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the new polling data.

The poll also found that Markey appeals more to younger voters, as 45 percent of respondents under 55 years old support Markey, whereas 28 percent support Kennedy.

In contrast, those ages 55 and older favor Kennedy, 40 percent to 38 percent.

“Senator Markey has a lead in the race, but it’s not substantial, and hinges on a strong vote from registered Democrats and/or younger voters (as well as those with at least a college degree),” JMC Analytics concluded.

The poll had a total of 500 Massachusetts registered voters weigh in via telephone.

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