mayoral race

2 Clear Frontrunners in Boston's Mayoral Race, But Many Undecided, Poll Finds

The value in early polls is less about predicting a winner than giving a frontrunner the ability to raise money, according to a man who led most of the 2013 race, only to come up short

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Grassroots campaigning seems to be paying off for Michelle Wu, the first candidate to get into the Boston mayor’s race last September. 

A new poll shows Wu tops the field at 19%, with a one point lead over Kim Janey, who took over the mayor's office last month. The MassINC poll, released Wednesday and conducted for WBUR, the Dorchester Reporter and the Boston Foundation, shows a second tier of Annissa Essaibi-George with 6%, Andrea Campbell with 4% and John Barros and Jon Santiago tied with 3%.

But early polls can be deceiving. Just ask John Connolly a Campbell supporter who lost to Marty Walsh in the 2013 mayoral final.

“I led in the polls from the time Mayor [Michael] Menino said he wasn’t running all the way probably up until 10 days left in the final election,” he said.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said during a White House press briefing that employers added more than 900,000 jobs in March and spoke in favor of raising the federal minimum wage.

In fact, MassINC Polling President Group Steve Koczela said there is one finding not to be overlooked: “Just how many people have not made up their minds in any way, shape or form.”

He said 46% of respondents were undecided and most hadn’t even heard of the candidates.

“So candidates have a lot of work to do in terms of introducing themselves to voters, both in their name recognition and in trying to kind of establish an image that they could then then run on,” Koczela said.

The value in early polls is less about predicting a winner than giving a frontrunner the ability to raise money, according to Connolly.

“If I am a candidate right now who is low in the polls and low on dollars, I’m very worried,” he said.

Kim Janey said Wednesday she has not had a chance to focus on the poll: “I am focused on the residents of the city of Boston and being mayor.” 

Connelly did not deny her strategic edge in the race.

“She’s had at this point about two months of free media becoming acting mayor,” Connelly said. “But she has made the most of it. I give her credit for that.”

All six candidates face off in their first mayoral forum on April 20.

The race to replace Marty Walsh as Boston's mayor features a number of candidates who are looking to break barriers in a role that's only been occupied in its history by white men.
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