Poll shows big lead for Wu in Boston mayor’s race

SHE MAY BE the “teachah” and the “muthah” to take on the problems facing Boston, but Annissa Essaibi George faces a steep uphill climb to become the “mayah” if the first poll taken during the final election campaign is on the mark. 

The survey, conducted by the MassINC Polling Group, shows Michelle Wu with a whopping 32-point lead over Essaibi George among likely voters with three weeks to go before the November 2 election. Among the 501 voters polled, 57 percent said they were backing Wu and 25 percent supported Essaibi George; those numbers included those also leaning toward a candidate but not sure of their vote. Among those with a clear preference, Wu’s lead is 30 points, 52-22, with 25 percent undecided. 

The poll was conducted for the Dorchester Reporter, WBUR , and The Boston Foundation, and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

Wu, who made a strong first-place showing in the September preliminary election, finishing 11 points ahead of Essaibi George, has been widely seen as the frontrunner in the race. 

The poll showed her with much higher favorability ratings than Essaibi George, and she drew more support than her rival among every demographic group and area of the city. 

On issues, improving the Boston schools is a top concern for supporters of both candidates, with more than 80 percent of Wu and Essaibi George backers calling it a “majority priority.”

Differences emerge on other issues, with Wu voters much more likely to call controlling housing costs a major priority (83 percent versus 54 percent of Essaibi George supporters). More Wu supporters also cited public transportation, an issue she has highlighted, as a priority (76 percent versus 57 percent). Meanwhile, more Essaibi George supporters cite getting tough on crime as a major priority (74 percent versus 51 percent). Essaibi George has been more outspoken on public safety and has called for hiring 200 to 300 additional police officers. 

There has been lots of attention paid to the question of who will win the support of voters who backed three Black candidates in the preliminary election. Black and brown voters “are going to decide this race,” John Connolly, a finalist in the 2013 mayoral contest, said this week on The Codcast

Among those surveyed in the new poll who voted for Andrea Campbell and Kim Janey, the two Black women in the preliminary, who finished third and fourth, Wu is now the clear preference. But she scores much higher with Campbell voters, 81 percent of whom say they now support Wu, than with Janey voters, 50 percent of whom now back Wu. Essaibi George is the choice of 10 percent of Campbell voters and 23 percent of Janey voters. The pattern raises questions about the value of endorsements, since Janey announced her support for Wu soon after the preliminary election, while Campbell has yet to make an endorsement in the final election.

Essaibi George is now the clear choice among those who voted for John Barros, the third Black candidate in the preliminary, but he finished a distant fifth with only 3 percent of the vote. Among Barros voters, 66 percent now say they support Essaibi George and 29 percent are backing Wu. Barros served as chief of economic development under former mayor Marty Walsh, a political ally of Essaibi George’s. 

The poll results only add to the pressure facing Essaibi George going into tonight’s televised mayoral debate. She is likely to look for ways to shake up the race and give voters doubts about a Wu administration in City Hall. 

For Wu, the task looks very different. “The person in the front just wants to get through the debate unscathed,” Erin O’Brien, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston, told the Globe

MICHAEL JONAS

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

 

Redrawn political maps: New legislative redistricting maps increase the number of majority-minority districts in the House (from 20 to 33) and the Senate (from 3 to 5) — all while making sure that almost no incumbents are forced to square off against each other.

The 2020 census prompted the changes. It revealed that Massachusetts’ population had grown to more than 7 million people, with growth migrating toward the urban centers and the western part of the state growing at a slower rate than the east. The number of minority residents also increased significantly, with the Asian population increasing by 45 percent, the Hispanic population increasing by 41 percent, and the Black population increasing by 17 percent, even as the White population declined by 7 percent. 

— Key changes in the Senate include separating Lawrence from Andover and combining it with Methuen and parts of Haverhill to create a heavily Hispanic district; siphoning White voters from the South End and Jamaica Plain out of the Second Suffolk district and replacing them with Black voters from Mattapan and Hyde Park to create a district that is 43 percent Black and 26 percent Hispanic; and tweaking the First Suffolk district to make it less Black but still majority-minority. The First Suffolk seat is held by Nick Collins, while the Second Suffolk is held by Sonia Chang-Diaz, who is running for governor. Read more.

Call out the Guard: Gov. Charlie Baker activated roughly 450 National Guard members to deal with expected staff shortages at the Department of Correction caused by the governor’s vaccine mandate and to provide support for a COVID testing program that is failing to meet the needs of schools across the state. It’s unclear whether other staff shortages will develop as the October 17 vaccine deadline for state workers approaches. The head of the union representing state correctional officers calls the vaccine deadline the governor’s “mass termination announcement.” Read more.

Patrick whistleblower case moves forward: The Supreme Judicial Court refused to dismiss a whistleblower case filed against the state after former governor Deval Patrick fired a subordinate who questioned a hearing officer’s decision allowing his brother-in-law to reside in Massachusetts without registering as a sex offender. The court’s reasoning suggests the case of the plaintiff – Saundra Edwards, the former executive director of the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board – has a chance at success. Read more.

Hamilton letter recovered: A US Appeals Court judge orders that a letter written by Alexander Hamilton to the Marquis de Lafayette in 1780 be returned to the state of Massachusetts. The letter went missing in the 1950s and surfaced when it was included in a package of items being sold at auction. Read more.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Boston officials say 812 city employees have been suspended without pay for failing to meet yesterday’s deadline to show proof of vaccination or a weekly negative COVID test. (Boston Herald)

Gov. Charlie Baker took part in another meeting with local leaders to talk about possible solutions for the crisis at Mass. and Cass in Boston, while a group of area civic groups reconvened a working group that had been dormant to also work on the problems. (Boston Herald

Northampton offers $550,000 for St. John’s Cantius Church as the fight over what to do with the abandoned structure heats up. A developer who bought the church last year for $1.26 million and wants to tear it down to build new housing is facing opposition from the city and others who want it preserved. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

A vigil is being planned for October 23 to mark the first anniversary of the death of David Almond, a 14-year-old Fall River boy who starved to death in an abusive home while he was supposed to be under state Department of Children and Families watch. (Herald News) A scathing report earlier this year documented multiple failings of DCF in the case. 

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A Berkshire Eagle editorial slams the Pittsfield Board of Health for caving into unfounded health concerns raised by residents and ask asking Verizon to take down a cell phone tower the residents believe is the cause of their illnesses.

Some social service organizations are calling for a supervised injection site in Worcester, but feelings are mixed about the sites, which are federally illegal. (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Biden administration is pushing the nation’s ports and retail giants to move to 24/7 operations to help ease supply chain snafus that are holding up the import of goods. (NPR)

ELECTIONS

The Worcester City Council votes to pursue a consent decree to settle a lawsuit alleging that its at-large system for electing the school committee disadvantages minority voters. (Telegram & Gazette)

State Sen. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield announces he’ll seek the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor next year. (Boston Globe

Western Massachusetts lawmakers are generally satisfied with the new redistricting maps, and say they are happy Springfield is retaining two state senators. (MassLive)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Brockton woman sues a local Dunkin Donuts owner after she is scalded by hot coffee at a drive-through. (Patriot Ledger)

ARTS/CULTURE

Two of the jurors for an art and poetry exhibit in Northampton that was canceled after complaints of bias lash out at their critics, accusing them of bias. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A report issued a year ago by a task force on missing persons recommended a number of changes in how Massachusetts handles missing persons cases – but almost none of the recommendations have been implemented. (MassLive)

A hearing officer for the board that disciplines attorneys recommends that three prosecutors accused of withholding evidence in a major drug lab case should face punishments ranging from a reprimand to a two-year law licenses suspension. (WBUR)

MEDIA

A new true crime documentary about the Boston Strangler, which will begin filming in December, will feature the story of a pair of South Shore reporters. (Patriot Ledger)