Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the 2020 primary field among likely Democratic voters in Massachusetts, a new Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll has found.
Biden had 22 percent support in the survey, released on Tuesday, followed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren at 10 percent, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., at 8 percent, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at 6 percent. Just over 40 percent of voters said they were still undecided.
While Warren enjoys a high favorability rating among likely Democratic primary voters (71 percent), her lagging homestate support may reflect the thinking of voters who are looking ahead to the general election, according to Suffolk University Political Research Center director David Paleologos, who oversaw the poll.
“I think it’s the perception that [Biden] can win, primarily,” he said. “It’s not that Democrats don’t like her. They do like her, by a wide margin.”
“If [voters] don’t see a candidate that’s able to remove Trump, that’s going to impact that candidate’s viability in the primary,” Paleologos said.
Warren’s presidential bid has been gaining momentum nationally in surveys as she has focused on detailing her policy positions on a range of issues, from breaking up big tech to filibuster reform. Last week, Warren issued a jobs plan intended to boost the US green energy capacity, and traveled to Michigan, a state Trump won in 2016, to pitch the idea to voters. The plan even drew praise from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
But Biden has sustained a lead in the polls that started before he jumped into the race. Recent national polls show him holding double-digit leads over the rest of the huge presidential primary field, and he’s leading in several early states, including New Hampshire, where an April Suffolk/Globe poll found him leading with 20 percent of voter support.
“He has both experience as well as, I think, the most balanced view on a way forward,” one participant in the poll, Mark Engelter, told the Globe in an interview.
“I love Elizabeth Warren here in Massachusetts,” the 50-year-old from West Roxbury said. “But I feel that she’s also a lightning rod in a way that she probably doesn’t intend, and I’m not sure she has broad enough appeal to really run effectively on a national level.”
Meanwhile, the poor showing for Sanders could be a sign of how far left the Democratic primary field has moved in the years since 2016. Once alone in his support for things like Medicare-for-All and tuition free college among Democratic primary candidates, he now finds himself with plenty of company in a field of two dozen candidates.
“I think that’s taken a little bit of the glitter away from Sanders,” Paleologos said.
Mass. voters won’t have a chance to weigh in on the presidential primary for awhile yet: The election will be held in March of next year.
Later in 2020, voters will also weigh in on a US Senate primary, which could feature two challengers to Senator Edward J. Markey.
On that front, just 44 percent of those polled said they would support Markey if the Democratic primary were held today, and 45 percent said they were undecided. Possible Markey challengers Shannon Liss-Riordan and Steve Pemberton each received about 5 percent of support from those polled.
Paleologos pointed to Markey’s low unfavorability rating — just 13 percent of Mass. Democrats said they viewed him unfavorably — as a bright spot.
“That puts a lot of pressure on one or both of his opponents to have a well-funded campaign to pretty much run the table” among undecideds, said Paleologos.
The poll included 370 likely Democratic primary voters from June 5 to 9, and had a margin of error of 5.1 percentage points.