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Poll Reveals Mixed Support for Warren Presidential Bid

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22, 2015 - 12:01 AM Polling Institute

Movement to draft Sen Elizabeth Warren has little traction in Massachusetts

While progressive political organizations dream of convincing Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016, a majority of Warren’s constituents think a presidential candidacy is a bad idea, according to the latest survey from the Western New England University Polling Institute.

The telephone survey of 427 registered voters in Massachusetts, conducted April 6 – 14, found that 57 percent said that Warren seeking the presidency would be a bad idea, 32 percent said it would be a good idea, and 11 percent said they did not know or declined to answer the question. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points.

Warren has repeatedly said she has no plans to run for president in 2016, despite ongoing efforts by liberal political organizations to entice her to run. While a majority of voters in Massachusetts don’t think Warren should run for president, those sentiments do not necessarily reflect negative views of Warren. The survey found that 62 percent of voters approve of the job Warren is doing as senator, 21 percent disapprove, and 17 percent said they did not know or declined to answer the question. Fifty-five percent of voters have a favorable view of Warren, and 30 percent of voters have an unfavorable view.

The survey also found that:

-- Senator Ed Markey, who won re-election in November, has a job approval rating of 35 percent, with 18 percent of voters disapproving and nearly half of voters – 47 percent – either unable or unwilling to offer an opinion. Markey’s favorability rating is 35 percent, with 19 percent unfavorable, 15 percent saying they have not heard of him, and 27 percent saying they have no opinion of him. Markey’s unfavorability has dropped 10 points since October, while his favorability has remained steady.

-- Governor Charlie Baker, after having served 100 days in office, has a job approval rating of 63 percent, with 10 percent of voters disapproving, and 27 percent saying they did not know or declining to answer the question. Fifty-six percent of voters have a favorable view of Baker, while 13 percent hold an unfavorable view, marking an increase in Baker’s popularity since winning election as governor in November.

After asking voters about a hypothetical Warren candidacy for president, the Polling Institute asked voters to explain, in their own words, why they think Warren running for president would be a good idea or a bad idea.

Among voters who said a Warren White House bid would be a bad idea, the most frequent reason given was that Warren does not have enough experience yet to serve as president (38 percent). Twelve percent said Warren is too liberal, while 12 percent said they don’t like Warren, or they don’t like her issue positions. Eight percent of voters who oppose Warren running for president said that she is doing a good job in the Senate and should stay there.

Tim Vercellotti, director of the Polling Institute and a professor of political science at Western New England University, said that voters who think a Warren presidential candidacy is a bad idea are a mix of her detractors and supporters.

“While there are plenty of voters who oppose the idea because they feel Warren is inexperienced or they don’t like her or her issue positions, there is also a significant number of voters who say she is doing a good job in the Senate and they want her to stay there,” he said.

Democrats were almost evenly divided, with 42 percent saying a presidential run would be a good idea and 46 percent saying it would be a bad idea. Among Republican and unenrolled voters, more than 60 percent said they thought it would be a bad idea.

Younger voters, ages 18 to 39, were most likely to endorse a Warren candidacy, with 46 percent saying it would be a good idea, and 44 percent saying it would be a bad idea. Also, as education increased, so did support, but even among college graduates 55 percent said they thought it would be a bad idea.

Voters who said they supported Warren running for president offered a wide range of reasons for their views. The most frequent explanation was that Warren would provide competition for Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination (17 percent). Fifteen percent said Warren would be an intelligent candidate, 13 percent said Warren has good ideas, 11 percent cited Warren’s advocacy for the middle class, and another 11 percent said they want to see a woman run for president.

Vercellotti noted that, even though Warren has insisted that she is not considering a presidential bid, the survey results still offer a nuanced look at the extent of her support among Massachusetts voters. “We’re engaging in some hypothetical thinking with these survey questions,” he said. “But the results tell us a great deal about where Warren stands with her constituents.”

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.