Although Joseph Kennedy III has not officially announced his candidacy, a UMass Lowell-Boston Herald Poll shows the young politician is an early favorite in the race for the Fourth Congressional District seat.
According to a press release issued Thursday night, Kennedy leads two to one - 60 percent to 28 percent - over Republican Sean Bielat.
As the poll points out, Kennedy's early lead could, in part, come from his name -- roughly three out of four voters in the district said they viewed the Kennedy family "favorably" overall. Twenty-eight percent of those who took the poll said they are more likely to vote for him because of his name.
Comparatively, 15 percent of those voters said the Kennedy name makes them less likely to vote for a candidate and 56 percent said it doesn't make much difference.
Both Kennedy, 31, and Bielat, 36, are vying for the seat that will be vacated by Barney Frank, .
Bielat, , has returned to Massachusetts and .
Kennedy, who is the son of former Congressman Joseph Kennedy II, to look at a possible run for the seat. He has since left his position as a Middlesex County prosecutor .
Along with Kennedy, , Sharon and have announced plans to run for the seat. said this week he will form an exploratory committee to look at the seat.
Newton Democrat , after leaving his campaign to run for U.S. Senate.
Brookline School Committee member and Republican Elizabeth Childs has also said she will run on the Republican ticket.
More statistics and information from the UMass Lowell-Boston Herald press release are below:
- While 73 percent of those polled view the Kennedy family favorably, 34 percent said they think the Kennedys have too much influence on Massachusetts politics. Forty-nine percent said the family has “about the right amount of influence” and 8 percent said they do not have enough influence.
- Close to a fifth of those who said Kennedy's family has too much influence would vote for Kennedy anyway.
- By self-described party identification, Democratic-leaning voters outnumbered Republican leaners 55 percent to 31 percent.
- Fifty-three percent of respondents in the poll expressed positive views of Frank, compared to 35 percent who were unfavorable and 6 percent who had no opinion.
- Kennedy’s overall favorability among those surveyed is 51 percent, compared to 17 percent unfavorable. Only 7 percent haven’t heard of him and the rest said they didn’t know enough about him to give an opinion.
- Fifty-five percent of respondents said they haven’t heard of Bielat, 13 percent viewed him favorably and another 13 percent see him unfavorably.
- The Fourth District survey also found extremely low name recognition for Elizabeth Childs, who is running against Bielat for the Republican nomination, and Paul Heroux, an announced Democratic hopeful; in both cases fewer than 10 percent of voters knew enough about those candidates to offer an opinion.
- The poll also tested overall views toward other political figures and found these favorable/unfavorable splits – President Barack Obama, 59 percent favorable/38 percent unfavorable; U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, 53 percent favorable/33 percent unfavorable; Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, 36 percent favorable/19 unfavorable (29 percent said they hadn’t heard of her); and Frank, 53 percent favorable/35 percent unfavorable. Those were within range statistically of results in a UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll in December 2011 of registered voters across Massachusetts.
- Although Kennedy is 31 years old and has never held elected office, 48 percent of voters in the new congressional district said the former Middlesex County assistant district attorney has the kind of experience to serve effectively in Congress; 22 percent said he does not.
- The survey attempted to measure possible voter confusion between Joseph Kennedy III and his father. When asked their overall opinion of the son, a quarter of respondents made a reference to or asked about the father. Poll interviewers, asked for an assessment at the end of each interview, estimated that 14 percent of respondents were confused about the difference between the younger and older Kennedy. However, the results of the poll indicate that any possible confusion does not hurt Joseph Kennedy III in voter preference.