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Third poll shows Wu with dominating lead, but a majority of voters support Essaibi George on public safety

Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu.Globe Staff

A new, independent poll released Thursday underscored City Councilor Michelle Wu’s dominating lead in the race for mayor over Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, with voters also in favor of her progressive initiatives including city funding for a free T.

The poll, by the progressive think tank Data for Progress, showed Wu with 57 percent support among likely Boston voters, compared to 32 percent for Essaibi George — a lead of 25 percentage points for Wu, which is slightly less than the lead other recent polls have given her, but still comparable.

Still, the poll showed one interesting bright spot for Essaibi George when it comes to the issues. Essaibi George has proposed spending more on policing, and respondents shared similar views: 64 percent said that local government should be spending more “creating a fair and effective public safety system.” By contrast, 28 percent said the city is spending the right amount, and 8 percent said the city should spend less.

Still, Wu was favored over Essaibi George across different age groups and demographics. She received far more support among Black, Hispanic, and white voters — she received 68 percent of support of Black voters — as well as those with college degrees, and those without one. Only voters who identified as Republican favored Essaibi George.

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Sixty-eight percent said they had a favorable view of Wu, and 37 percent said it was very favorable; 26 said they view her unfavorably. Forty-six percent said they held a favorable view of Essaibi George, while 36 percent viewed her negatively.

Former mayor Martin J. Walsh, who Wu had planned to challenge before he left to join President Biden’s Cabinet, was viewed favorably by 69 percent of residents. Respondents also gave favorable ratings to Senators Elizabeth Warren (71 percent) and Edward J. Markey (68 percent).

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The poll is the third in less than two weeks that shows Wu in command of the race, with just over a week until Election Day. Early voting begins Saturday, and the last of three televised debates is slated for Monday.

Essaibi George has turned more assertive in debates and on the trail in recent weeks, and she gathered with supporters Thursday afternoon to “detail her agenda to close the racial wealth gap.” In recent debates, she pressed Wu on some of her rival’s progressive policy proposals, including a free T, criticizing them as unrealistic.

But respondents in the Data for Progress said they favored local government advocacy for free transportation.

Sixety-nine percent of respondents said they support the City Council “making public transportation usage free in Boston in order to help reduce the city’s carbon footprint and improve access to the city to low-income residents.” Wu’s plans for a free T would not go through the City Council, as the wording in the poll suggests. Nonetheless, the poll results still show general support for a free T. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they “strongly support” the effort; 30 percent were opposed.

Moreover, 78 percent of respondents said they support the City Council “pursuing a Green New Deal Agenda, by which the council would pursue policies to invest in green energy and promote clean air and water for city residents.” Wu has pitched a Green New Deal at the city level as part of her policy package. In the poll, 68 percent said the city should be spending more addressing climate change.

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Meanwhile, 51 percent said they were very concerned with racial disparities in the enforcement of laws, and 25 percent said they were somewhat concerned. Twelve percent said they were not concerned at all.

The poll was conducted from Oct. 14-18, before Tuesday’s debate, and involved 507 likely voters either reached by text message or who participated in an online panel. The margin of error was plus or minus four percentage points.


Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.