Monday, September 30, 2013

A look at polling averages, fundraising, and district overlap in competitive MA-5 Democratic primary

Clark leads in polling averages and fundraising, Sciortino ad making a difference, Koutoujian has been on the ballot for more MA-5 voters

The Democratic primary to fill the Massachusetts 5th Congressional seat vacated by Senator Ed Markey has drawn a deep and talented field, unsurprising given the safe Democratic nature of the seat (Obama +33, Warren +18) and the rarity of such an opening. The candidates include State Senator William Brownsberger of Belmont, State Senator Katherine Clark of Melrose, Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian of Newton, State Representative Carl Sciortino of Medford, and State Senator Karen Spilka of Ashland.

There has been only one public poll not affiliated with a campaign (from Emerson College Polling Society), but an average of all of the published polling numbers shows State Senator Katherine Clark as the leader. While Sciortino had been coming in below the other major candidates, the early polling came before his strong Tea-Party Dad advertisement, which captured national attention and seems to have had an effect on likely voters. Sciortino surpassed Will Brownsberger in the latest Gerstein Bocian Agne Strategies poll.

MA-5 polling average

Katherine Clark is also leading in fundraising, as reported in the FEC reports covering January 1 through June 30. Brownsberger and Sciortino are clustered at around 75% of Clark's total, Koutoujian is at 63%, and Spilka is far behind at well under half of Clark's total with 42%.

MA-5 Fundraising numbers

District overlap

Many of the 5th Congressional District voters have already seen one or more of these candidates on the ballot, and possibly voted for one of the candidates for State Rep., State Senator, or Sheriff. A full 93% of expected voters have seen Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian's name on a ballot in 2012, with smaller overlaps for Clark at 16%, 11% for State Senator Karen Spilka, 10% for State Senator William Brownsberger, and 3% for State Representative Carl Sciortino.

Existing district overlap (click for interactive map)

The estimated number of voters are based on the primary voters from each precinct who voted in the Markey/Lynch Democratic primary in April.

MA-5 district overlap table

Additional polling will help determine whether Carl Sciortino has been able to overcome his early low showing in the polls and lack of name recognition with his entertaining and powerful television advertisement. Katherine Clark has shown a consistent early lead in polling and fundraising, but the remaining candidates are within striking distance in what will likely be another low-turnout special election primary.

Poll listing


  1. So, your second paragraph nailed it. Of all the polls, only one is actually independent, and that was pre-Sciortino ad. What the internal polls do show is that Sciortino has gained traction since that ad went viral and that Clark is in the lead. But -- how much she's in the lead? I don't know. I'm skeptical of her internal showing her over 25% (I don't really think any smart campaign would make public an internal poll that isn't favorable -- see: Romney, Mitt 2012). And any averages are flawed because there's clearly a divide pre-Sciortino ad and post. Reality is that Sciortino is more likely between 11-15% (and possibly higher) than at 10% - his early numbers are bringing his average down.

    I'm also really curious about fundraising post-ad. Has Clark tapped out, or has she kept pace? Sciortino claimed to raise $263,000 since July 1st. How much did Clark raise?

  2. These are the only numbers that the PCCC released from their PPP poll:

    Preferred Candidate Have Seen Ad Have Not
    William Brownsberger 10% X%
    Katherine Clark 20% X%
    Carl Sciortino 29% 5%
    Peter Koutoujian 9% X%
    Karen Spilka 12% X%

    Those "X"es were in the original release. I don't think you can include them alongside the other polling results, because these don't represent full toplines, just partial crosstabs.

  3. I removed the PPP poll from the average based on David's observation that the numbers were an incomplete cross-tab, rather than true top lines.