fb-pixel Skip to main content

The Suffolk/Globe poll of N.H. voters has some warning signs for Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren.
Elizabeth Warren. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/Getty Images

The latest Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of likely New Hampshire primary voters may have some warning signs for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 campaign.

The poll, released Tuesday, shows Warren in fourth place with 8 percent support, behind former vice president Joe Biden with 20 percent, Senator Bernie Sanders at 12 percent, and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg with a little less than 12 percent of support.

Let’s recap: Warren visits New Hampshire often. She is well known as a candidate. Her positions are in line with the party’s faithful. She has experienced staff on the ground in New Hampshire. Indeed, in a Suffolk poll of state Democrats released almost a year ago, Warren was the front-runner.


So, to get at this question of why her support lags among the 2020 field, the Suffolk/Globe survey asked likely Democratic primary voters who backed another candidate why they didn’t pick Warren.

Possibly unsurprisingly, one in four didn’t say why they didn’t support her. But the leading reason among those who gave one: They say she can’t beat President Trump. Approximately 18 percent gave that answer, followed by 11 percent who said that “she doesn’t excite me,” 10 percent who said “she comes off as angry,” 9 percent who said “her politics are too liberal,” and 4 percent who said they just preferred another candidate.

Interestingly, there were more women than men who said she was “too angry.” And those whosaid they weren’t with her because she couldn’t win were self-identified as liberals.

The good news for Warren is that questions about her Native American heritage didn’t seem to be much of a factor, given that less than 5 percent of respondents mentioned it as a reason they weren’t backing her.

To be clear, the stakes are high for Warren in New Hampshire. Only one Massachusetts Democrat mounting a presidential campaign has ever lost the neighboring New Hampshire presidential primary: Ted Kennedy, when he took on incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980. There are many more examples of Massachusetts Democrats who have won the primary, going back to John F. Kennedy in 1960 and, most recently, John Kerry in 2004.


Where does Warren stack up with Kerry in 2004, or even Mitt Romney in 2012, fellow Mass. politicians who won the New Hampshire primary before becoming their party’s presidential nominee? It’s a mixed bag.

In the spring of 2003, Kerry was in second place, trailing former Vermont governor Howard Dean, 19 percent to 14 percent. In that campaign, Dean would expand his lead over Kerry. Then, in the fall, Kerry had a campaign shakeup and won New Hampshire with momentum from a surprising win in the Iowa caucuses first.

Romney, meanwhile, was cruising along in New Hampshire in the spring of 2011 with a 15-point lead over the rest of the GOP field. In second place with 11 percent in that poll was — wait for it — Donald J. Trump. (Trump, of course, never mounted a 2012 presidential campaign.)

But in Mitt Romney’s case, the New Hampshire primary hadn’t seen such a strong front-runner since Kennedy in 1960. Romney and Kennedy had strong leads and never let up.

The Suffolk/Globe poll was conducted April 25 to 28 and had a margin of error of 4.7 percent.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics: http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp