Early Polling Finds Democrats In Command In Massachusetts

Posted October 11, 2015

 Voters give positive marks to Clinton, Sanders and take a dim view of Trump

With the presidential election still more than a year away, Massachusetts voters hold favorable views of the leading Democratic candidates and give them healthy advantages in hypothetical matchups with some of the leading Republicans, according to the latest poll from the Western New England University Polling Institute. 

The telephone survey of 425 registered voters, conducted Oct.1-8, found that roughly half of voters held favorable views of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Voters tended to express negative views of Republicans Donald Trump and former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, while appearing to be fairly evenly divided about retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former computer industry executive Carly Fiorina. 

In hypothetical general election match-ups, the survey found that Clinton led Trump, Bush and Fiorina by anywhere from 27 to 37 percentage points. Sanders, an independent senator who is seeking the Democratic nomination, also posted similar leads in the match-ups against Trump, Bush and Fiorina.


Voters, however, were not uniformly satisfied with the field of presidential candidates that has emerged to date. Fifty-two percent of voters said they would like to see someone else enter the race, while 44 percent said they were satisfied and four percent said they did not know or declined to answer. Democrats were slightly more inclined to say they would like to see someone else enter the race (56 percent) compared to Republicans and unenrolled voters (49 percent in each group). 

Among voters who said they would like to see someone else enter the race, when asked for a name, 55 percent could not identify a potential candidate. Nineteen percent said they would like to see Vice President Joe Biden run, while six percent said Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, and three percent said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  The remaining 17 percent of voters offered a wide variety of names ranging from television personality Jon Stewart to former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Forty-nine percent of voters said they are extremely enthusiastic or very enthusiastic about voting in next year’s election. The survey found a gap in enthusiasm that currently favors the Democrats, with 56 percent of Democrats saying they are extremely or very enthusiastic, compared to 36 percent of Republicans. Among unenrolled voters, 48 percent said they are extremely or very enthusiastic. 

Economic concerns appear to top the voters’ agenda heading in to 2016. When asked to name the most important issue to them in deciding whom to support, 28 percent of voters cited the economy, jobs, unemployment or income inequality. Ten percent pointed to the character of the candidate, nine percent listed illegal immigration and six percent said defense or the war on terror.

“With just under four months until the first primaries and caucuses and 13 months until the presidential election, we are still early in the cycle,” said Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute and a professor of political science at Western New England University. “But voters have well-developed views on some of the candidates and are beginning to form opinions of others. People are tuning into the race.”

The survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points, found that Clinton, Sanders and Biden all were in positive territory in terms of favorability ratings. Fifty-two percent of voters viewed Clinton favorably. But she had the highest unfavorability rating among the three, at 41 percent. Forty-eight percent of voters viewed Sanders favorably, with 23 percent viewing him unfavorably. Biden’s numbers were 56 percent favorable and 28 percent unfavorable, similar to his favorability the last time the Polling Institute measured it in September 2012. Sanders is the least known of the three, with eight percent of voters saying they have not heard of him, and another 20 percent saying they have heard of him but could not offer an opinion of him. 

On the Republican side, Trump fared worst of the four GOP candidates tested in the survey. More than two-thirds of voters – 68 percent – said they have an unfavorable view of Trump, and only 22 percent said they have a favorable view. Large majorities of Democrats (84 percent) and unenrolled voters (65 percent) expressed negative views of Trump, while Republicans were roughly split at 43 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable. Among women, 72 percent expressed an unfavorable view of Trump, and 16 percent were favorable. Sixty-four percent of men had an unfavorable view, while 29 percent were favorable. 

Bush’s numbers also tilted toward the negative, but in less dramatic fashion, with 53 percent of voters holding an unfavorable view and 28 percent expressing a favorable view. Voters were fairly evenly divided over Carson (28 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable) and Fiorina (29 percent favorable and 29 percent unfavorable). For both Carson and Fiorina about 40 percent of voters either had not heard of them or could not offer an opinion of them. 

In hypothetical general election matchups Clinton and Sanders held sizable leads over Trump, Bush and Fiorina. Clinton led Trump by 37 points (64 percent to 27 percent), Bush by 27 points (58 percent to 31 percent), and Fiorina by 32 points (61 percent to 29 percent). Sanders led Trump by 35 points (63 percent to 28 percent), Bush by 27 points (57 percent to 30 percent), and Fiorina by 30 points (59 percent to 29 percent). 

Democrat Barack Obama won Massachusetts by 23 points in 2012 and 26 points in 2008. The last Republican presidential candidate to win the state was Ronald Reagan, who carried Massachusetts by three percentage points in his national landslide victory in1984. The last Democrat to win Massachusetts by more than 30 points was Bill Clinton, who defeated Republican Bob Dole by 33 points here in 1996. 

tim_vercellotti_web.jpg“Needless to say, there hasn’t been a lot of suspense when it comes to presidential politics in Massachusetts in recent cycles,” Vercellotti said. “Even so, the leads in our hypothetical matchups in this survey are certainly going to fluctuate as the campaign proceeds, and as we shift from looking at all registered voters to looking at likely voters. The early take-away, however, is that Sanders appears to enjoy levels of support comparable to Clinton in general election match-ups in Massachusetts, at least for now.”    

 Click here to view the complete poll results.


The Western New England University Polling Institute conducted a telephone survey Oct. 1-8, 2015. Western New England University sponsored and funded the study.  The survey sample consists of telephone interviews in English only with 473 adults ages 18 and older drawn from across Massachusetts using random-digit-dialing.  The sample yielded 425 adults who said they are registered to vote in Massachusetts.  

Paid interviewers at the Polling Institute dialed household telephone numbers, known as “landline numbers,” and cell phone numbers using random samples obtained from Survey Sampling International of Shelton, CT. In order to draw a representative sample from the landline numbers, interviewers alternated asking for the youngest adult male or the youngest adult female age 18 or older who was home at the time of the call. Interviewers dialing cell phone numbers interviewed the respondent who answered the cell phone after confirming three things: (1) that the respondent was in a safe setting to complete the survey; (2) that the respondent was an adult age 18 or older; and (3) that the respondent was a resident of Massachusetts. The sample of all adults consisted of 334 interviews completed on landlines and 139 interviews completed on cell phones. The landline and cell phone data were combined and weighted to reflect the adult population of Massachusetts by gender, race, age, and county of residence using U.S. Census estimates for Massachusetts. The data also were weighted to adjust for cell phone and landline usage based on state-level estimates for Massachusetts from the National Center for Health Statistics, and to adjust for voter registration by party using figures from the office of the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. Complete results of the poll and the full text of the landline and cell phone versions of the survey are available at http:// www1.wne.edu/pollinginst.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. The margin of sampling error for a sample of 425 registered voters is +/- 5 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval. Thus if 55 percent of registered voters said they hold a favorable view of a candidate, one would be 95 percent sure that the true figure would be between 50 percent and 60 percent (55 percent +/- 5 percent) had all registered voters in Massachusetts been interviewed, rather than just a sample.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  Sampling error does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, or context effects.

Established in 2005, the Western New England University Polling Institute conducts research on issues of importance to Massachusetts and the region. The Institute provides the University’s faculty and students with opportunities to participate in public opinion research. The Institute is a charter member of the Transparency Initiative, sponsored by the American Association for Public Opinion Research. The Transparency Initiative supports greater openness in the reporting of survey research methodology. Additional information about the Polling Institute is available from Dr. Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute, at polling@wne.edu.


Open House at Western New England University on Saturday, October 17

Posted October 10, 2015


Western New England University will host high school students and their parents at an open house on Saturday, October 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event is free, but advance reservation is requested by calling 413-782-1312 or toll-free at 1-800-325-1122 Ext. 1312, or register on line at www.wne.edu/openhousereg.

Students and parents will tour the campus, explore the breadth of academic programs, attend a session on the first year experience, learn about financial aid options, and chat informally with faculty, athletic staff, support staff, and students. A highlight of the day is a student panel discussion where current students share their insights on campus culture and first year transitions.


University to Host Information Session for Master’s Programs in Business

Posted October 9, 2015

Western New England University will host an information session for prospective graduate business students on Wednesday, October 14 at 6:00 p.m. in the Kevin S. Delbridge Welcome Center (Second Floor).

During the information session, faculty from the College of Business and representatives of the Admissions Office will be available to answer questions and help prospective students choose a program that suits their educational and career goals. The University offers a variety of graduate business programs, including master’s degree of Business Administration (MBA), Science in Organizational Leadership, and Science in Accounting (MSA) including a concentration in Forensic Accounting/Fraud Investigation. Additionally, the University offers joint JD/MBA and JD/MSA degree programs in conjunction with the Western New England University School of Law and a joint Master of Science in Engineering Management/MBA in conjunction with the University’s College of Engineering. Classes are offered online with optional classroom sessions, allowing students greater flexibility.

For more information, visit www.wne.edu/gradbusiness or contact the Admissions Office at 413-782-1517 or study@wne.edu.


University Receives Funding to Advance Skills in Computing Education

Posted October 8, 2015

Dr. Heidi Ellis and Dr. Stoney Jackson of the Computer Science and Information Technology Department recently received a grant of $389,569 from the National Science Foundation titled “OpenPath – Improving Student Pathways to Computing Professions via Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software”. This funding is part of a nearly $1 million collaborative grant initiative with Nassau Community College in New York and Drexel University in Pennsylvania.


The OpenPath program will improve undergraduate computing education by developing a shared pathway through the computing curriculum. It will encourage input and feedback from students and faculty to address key challenges of computing education, by using proactive online learning in small groups with an authentic and exciting framework. The pathway will consist of course materials and activities that support student involvement in Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS), throughout their entire undergraduate education. This intentional and shared effort builds on collaborative relationships with the Red Hat University Outreach team, the GNOME Accessibility team, and the OpenHatch project, all of which promote and support the use of educational open-source software.

“OpenPath will connect students directly with many Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software professionals from around the globe,” remarked Dr. Ellis. “ Allowing students to learn directly within a professional environment. OpenPath will create a conduit for supporting that professional involvement. 

As it unfolds, OpenPath will help build a globally competitive workforce by exposing students to a unique community of international developers, and allow them to experience computing as a social activity with societal benefits. By giving students opportunities to positively impact society, OpenPath can also engage and motivate traditionally underrepresented minorities and women to pursue careers in computing.”


Clason Speaker Series at School of Law to Host C. Thomas Brown on October 13

Posted October 7, 2015

clason_brown_c_thomas_410jpgWestern New England University School of Law’s Clason Speaker Series and the Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies will host a talk by Public Interest Week, Keynote Speaker C. Thomas Brown on Tuesday, October 13 at 12:00 noon in the Law School Common. The talk, entitled “Litigating Marriage Equality: A Law Firm Attorney’s Role in Obergefell v. Hodges,” is free and open to students, alumni, the University community, as well as to the general public. Pizza will be served.

This summer, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which interpreted the Constitution to protect the equal rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry in all states. The Court’s decision would not have been possible without the work of many attorneys from non-profit organizations and law firms, who worked tirelessly to create the winning arguments. In honor of Public Interest week, we will hear from one such attorney, C. Thomas Brown. He will discuss his role in the marriage equality litigation and how law firm attorneys can incorporate public interest work into diverse practices.

C. Thomas Brown is a senior associate at Ropes & Gray in Boston, where his practice focuses on actions under the Federal securities laws, mergers and acquisitions law, and other complex transactional matters.

The Clason Speaker Series presents expert lectures to the School of Law and to the public. The series is named after Charles R. Clason, a prominent local attorney and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, who held the position of Dean of the School of Law from 1954 to 1970. Today, the purpose of the Charles and Emma Clason Endowment Fund is to host speakers who will enhance the academic environment of the School of Law at the University.

For more information, call 413-782-1405 or email Professor Erin Buzuvis at ebuzuvis@law.wne.edu.


2nd Annual Fall Ball a Big Success

Posted October 6, 2015

By junior Natasha Mercado-Santana


Friday night, September 25, the class of 2017 Council hosted its second annual Fall Ball in Rivers Memorial Hall. The Fall Ball is a semi-formal social event open to students of all classes.

There was great food all evening, a fun photo booth, a super DJ, and a chance to win a free iPad.


Kenya Jenkins, Lynda Akor, Jennifer Alves

It was a good opportunity for students of all classes to meet each other and spend time together making memories. Sophomore Kristen Dansereau says, “I had a lot of fun dancing, taking photos with my friends, and just hanging out with my classmates!”

It was senior Gennah Borg’s first time attending the Fall Ball. “It was a lot of fun. I liked the turn-out, and I think that more students would be interested in going in the future because of the excitement around getting dressed up, dancing with friends, taking pictures at the booth, and making memories with peers,” she says. As a senior, Borg is excited to be a senior and hoping to participate in as many activities as she can before graduating next May.


    Katie Betlej, Jeffery Massicott, Gennah Borg, Kristen Dansereau


"Fun Home" Broadway Excursion Planned

Posted October 2, 2015


The Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development is sponsoring a unique opportunity for students to experience Fun Home on Broadway, Sunday, October 18 for the 3:00 matinee. 

Fun Home is the 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, and the first show written and composed entirely by women to win Best Musical! It's based on Alison Bechdel's best-selling graphic memoir of growing up in her dysfunctional family, embracing her sexual orientation, and showing how much our world has changed. Performed entirely in the round, Fun Home is a uniquely intimate and emotional theatrical experience. You will not be disappointed!

The bus will depart from behind the Campus Center at 11:00 a.m., and will return to campus around 8:00 p.m. Tickets are just $30, including the $59 face-value ticket, and transportation to and from New York City. Tickets are available on University Tickets:  http://wneu.universitytickets.com/user_pages/event.asp?id=270&cid=28

If there are any tickets remaining as of Friday morning, October 9, they will be available for faculty and staff to purchase at $59 each. 


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