Wu rides high in new poll

3 rivals still battling for second spot as mayor’s race heads to the wire 

CITY COUNCILOR City Councilor Michelle Wu continues to hold a commanding lead in the Boston mayor’s race, with three rivals tightly bunched in the fight for second place in next Tuesday’s preliminary election and a slot on the November final election ballot, according to a new poll.

The Emerson College/7News poll, conducted earlier this week among 600 very likely Boston voters, had Wu at 30 percent, followed by City Councilor Annisa Essaibi George with 18 percent, City Councilor Andrea Campbell with 17 percent, and Acting Mayor Kim Janey with 16 percent. No other candidates reached more than 2 percent and 14 percent of those polled were still undecided. 

Wu clocked the biggest gain since the last Emerson poll, in late August, rising by 6 percentage points, while Campbell gained 3 points. Essaibi George’s and Janey’s numbers were unchanged. 

When undecided voters were asked which candidate they were leaning toward, Wu’s support rose to 36 percent, with Essaibi George at 21 percent, Campbell at 20 percent, and Janey at 18 percent. 

Housing and education were rated the top issues steering voters’ choice, with each issue named by 21 percent of respondents as their top concern. 

The poll has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.

Meanwhile, a poll conducted over the same three-day period earlier this week by a super PAC supporting Campbell says the Mattapan city councilor has moved into a tie for second place with Essaibi George, with Janey now trailing them in the scramble for the the second spot in next Tuesday’s preliminary election. 

An email on Thursday afternoon to Campbell supporters from Sonia Alleyne, chair of the Better Boston super PAC, says a poll carried out Monday through Wednesday of this week by Chris Anderson of Beacon Research shows Wu in the lead with 33 percent, followed by Essaibi George and Campbell tied at 19 percent, Janey at 15 percent, and John Barros with 3 percent. The poll surveyed 985 Boston residents who voted in the 2017 municipal election or 2020 presidential primary and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. 

The top two finishers in the September preliminary election advance to the final election in November. 

Wu has had a consistent lead in nearly every poll in the race. As with the new Emerson poll, other recent independent polls have shown a tight race between Janey, Essaibi George, and Campbell for second place and a spot on the November ballot. A Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll released earlier this week showed Wu with 31 percent, Janey with 20 percent, Essaibi George with 19 percent, and Campbell with 18 percent. 

The competition between Janey and Campbell, the two Black women in the race, has become heated. Some observers have raised the prospect that they could divide the Black vote, with neither candidate then making the final election. 

Campbell has offered the most consistent criticism of Janey’s leadership as acting mayor of any of the candidates, including ripping her for likening the idea of vaccine passports to slavery or birtherism. Meanwhile, an independent super PAC supporting Janey has begun running radio ads slamming Campbell — the first negative ads of the race — over her connection to charter school supporters who are major donors to the Better Boston super PAC. 

All of the campaigns are getting help from super PACs, which have no limits on donations but are not allowed to coordinate their efforts with the candidate campaigns. 

Wu and Campbell both entered the mayor’s race a year ago this month. It was widely expected at the time that then-Mayor Marty Walsh would seek a third term this year, but he left office in March to become President Biden’s labor secretary. The move catapulted Janey, then the City Council president, into the acting mayor’s position.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

In April, a prominent Janey supporter, real estate developer Richard Taylor, sent an email to some Campbell backers suggesting they push for her appointment as Suffolk County district attorney as a way to ease Campbell from the race and provide a clearer path for Janey. 

Campbell’s campaign manager shot back at the idea, calling it “misinformed and insulting,” especially since Campbell entered the race “long before it was an open seat.”