Polling Society publishes local, national results on presidential race

by Ross Cristantiello / Beacon Staff • November 5, 2015

The Emerson College Polling Society has released data that shows Donald Trump has a sizeable lead in Massachusetts, and that Hillary Clinton is pulling ahead of Bernie Sanders.

The society conducted two surveys recently, one focused on this state and the other nationally. The results were released by the society on Oct. 20 and 19, respectively. The polls asked citizens about a range of topics, heavily emphasizing politics.

Spencer Kimball, the organization’s advisor and a Republican political consultant, said the statewide results were particularly shocking, especially the fact the Trump now has about 48 percent of the Republican vote in Massachusetts.

“I knew he was winning, but I didn’t think he was winning by that much,” Kimball said.

Some other surprising results came from questions about recreational marijuana use and the use of body cameras on police officers in Massachusetts, according to Kimball. It was found that 71 percent of those polled favor a Boston Police pilot program that equips officers with cameras.

“I’d say the size of the gap between those for and against body cameras was surprising,” Christine Kane, co-president of the society, said.

There was a much tighter gap between those for and against the legalization of recreational marijuana use by adults, which will be put forth as a 2016 state ballot question. Only 41 percent of those polled are in favor the idea, while 48 percent oppose it. When the state voted on medicinal marijuana use, it passed with 63 percent in favor.

The national poll showed that Hillary Clinton will likely win the Democratic primaries. Her lead at 68 percent compares to Bernie Sanders’ 20 percent.

Kimball attributed Clinton’s success to her strong showing at both the first Democratic debate and the Benghazi hearings, and Vice President Joe Biden’s announcement that he would not be running. This poll was the first of the presidential season to not include Biden’s name among Democratic hopefuls, something that Kimball thinks gave Clinton a huge boost.

“She probably had one of her best political weeks,” Kimball said.

The Republican race nationally is a lot closer than it is locally, according to the results. Trump stands at 32 percent support, while Ben Carson trails slightly with 23 percent. These numbers reflect a one point loss for Trump, and a three point gain for Carson. Marco Rubio is also gaining traction, with his support jumping from eight to 14 percent.

The society is planning to survey Connecticut in upcoming months to gather more local information to compare with their national results. Kimball says they are also aiming to get one more national poll underway before the semester ends.