Poll: Trump leading with Republican primary voters in Massachusetts

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as a protestor is removed from the arena during a campaign stop at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass., Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A new poll shows Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has a commanding lead with Massachusetts voters ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

A survey conducted by MassINC for WBUR-FM has Trump leading two-to-one over all other candidates with 40%, while John Kasich and Marco Rubio garnered 19%, Ted Cruz got 10% and Ben Carson received just 5% of the vote.

The survey of 368 likely Republican primary voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

During a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers on Friday, Lauren Dezenski of Politico Massachusetts said it is no longer shocking how well Trump is doing.

“Even among high-level Republicans and behind the scenes at the State House, it’s been kind of assumed that Donald Trump was going to lock it up for a while now,” Dezenski said.

UMass Boston political science professor Maurice Cunningham said Trump is appealing to blue-collar workers in Massachusetts who feel disenfranchised by other candidates.

“A lot of people are upset with the political establishment on both sides; Trump is really speaking to that,” Cunningham said. “I think the independents, or unenrolled [voters], are probably going to go toward Trump.”

Cunningham said Kasich’s second-place tie was a good showing for him.

On the flip side, the MassINC/WBUR poll shows a much tighter race in Massachusetts among Democratic primary voters. The survey had Hillary Clinton getting 49%, while Bernie Sanders secured 44%.

Dezenski said the contest on that side is “somewhat of a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party in the state.”

“You have the institutional support for Hillary Clinton … then you have this broad base of support for Bernie Sanders,” Dezenski said. “I think you see that split reflected in the numbers.”

Dezesnki said it’s significant that U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the nation’s most prominent progressive politicians, isn’t endorsing Clinton or Sanders before the primary.

“I think her endorsement would be valuable to either candidate,” Dezenski said. “I was talking to someone from the Clinton campaign after New Hampshire and they said, ‘We would like to see Elizabeth Warren come in to stop the bleeding.'”

Cunningham said Warren’s messages tend to resonate with Sanders’ supporters, but she has reason to be cautious.

“She’s a U.S. senator now, she’s a working politician, she’s in leadership in the Senate, I think it’s a little more delicate for her to endorse,” he said.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @TimWhiteRI

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