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WBZ-UMass Amherst Poll: Clinton-Sanders Dead Heat; Trump Huge Lead In Mass.

BOSTON (CBS) -  The Massachusetts Democratic primary is too close to call between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, while Donald Trump holds a huge lead in the Republican primary a day before Super Tuesday, according to a new UMass Amherst, WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio poll.

In the survey of 400 likely Democratic voters between February 19 and 25, Clinton leads Sanders 44-to-43 percent, with 9-percent undecided.  When "leaners," those who haven't decided but are leaning towards one candidate, are added in, Clinton's lead grows slightly to 47-to-44 percent.

WBZ Umass poll
(WBZ-TV graphic)

On the Republican side, Donald Trump holds a commanding lead over the field with 47-percent in the poll of 292 likely Republican voters.  Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are tied in a distant second with 15-percent each.  John Kasich has 11-percent while Ben Carson is last with 2-percent. The results are virtually the same when the leaners are included.

WBZ Umass poll
(WBZ-TV graphic)

The overall poll has a margin of error of 6-percent.

Read: WBZ UMass Amherst Poll Details (.pdf)

Read: WBZ UMass Amherst Poll -- Vote Choice (.pdf)


Clinton enjoys significant leads among women over 30, Catholics and moderates. Sanders' dominates twentysomethings and liberals.

But get this –voters told us that "best represents my views on the issues" was the most important candidate quality to them. And by a huge 64-25% margin, they said Sanders fit the bill. But that's seemingly not enough to give him an edge.

While Sanders also scored his usual blowout margin on "trustworthiness" (73-15%), he loses badly on the other qualities voters said were important: best chance to win in November (65-29% Clinton); a strong leader (66-23%); and has the right experience (90-4%).

Debate performance is a useful allegory for leadership ability and political skills, and the debates have helped Clinton. Sanders' passion, unique visual branding, and let-it-rip rhetoric have played well in rallies, sitdown interviews and comedy-show cameos. But in live debates, Clinton is more composed and articulate; he has yet to figure out how to counter her effectively when she attacks.

Still, Massachusetts is up for grabs. He has to win it; with all the coverage down here of Sanders' impressive march to a rout in New Hampshire, a rejection by one of the nation's most left-leaning Democratic enclaves would be hard to spin. And if you're with us Tuesday night on myTV38 during our coverage and hear it called for Clinton, you know she's on her way to a very big night.


On the Republican side, Donald Trump's dominance is complete.

He fails to win only one demographic – voters 18-29. Women love him (at least, a 36% plurality do) and - can you spell man-crush? (57% support).

Another 57% say he shares their views. The only turbulence in Trump Force One's flight path – Marco Rubio is seen as having a better chance to win (42-24%).

This should surprise no one. Trump's key issues – immigration and terror – have resonated with the legions of working class voters who's been angry with state and federal immigration practices for some time, and – oh, yes, we have a little recent experience with immigration-terror link around here.

Perhaps it was just a coincidence that Trump – alone among his Republican competitors - held big rallies in Massachusetts during the New Hampshire runup, on the South Shore, in north central Massachusetts, and the Merrimack Valley, all well-known fishing grounds for conservative votes. Then again, perhaps not; it was a smart way for Trump to campaign in two states at once.

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