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By Colin A. Young

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, FEB. 15, 2018.....U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano holds about a 12-point lead over his challenger, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, in a new WBUR poll that sheds light on the undertaking Pressley faces as she challenges the 10-term Somerville Democrat.

A poll conducted by MassINC Polling Group found 47 percent of respondents said they are supporting or leaning towards Capuano in the congressional race and 35 percent said they're backing or leaning towards backing Pressley, with 15 percent saying they haven't decided.

Capuano, who was elected to Congress in 1998 after serving as mayor of Somerville, is thought of favorably by 60 percent of voters and 63 percent of voters said they approve of the job he is doing in Congress, the WBUR poll found.

Pressley, a Democrat who in 2009 became the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council, is thought of favorably by 42 percent of voters with another 33 percent of voters unfamiliar with her, the poll said. Sixty-five percent of voters approve of the work she is doing on the city council.

Drawn to include voters of racial minorities, the 7th Congressional District includes much of Boston, Cambridge and Milton, along with the cities of Everett, Somerville and Chelsea, and the town of Randolph.

At the outset of the race, each of the candidates appears to have significant support on their home turf.

Among voters in Pressley's home city, she earns 46 percent support to Capuano's 35 percent, the poll revealed.

But if Boston voters are left out of the picture, Capuano is the beneficiary of 66 percent support to Pressley's 17 percent, according to the poll.

The poll was based on live telephone interviews held between Feb. 9 and Feb. 11 with 402 registered Massachusetts voters. The poll's margin of error is 4.9 percentage points.

Poll respondents said overwhelmingly that the number of women in Congress and the number of black members of Congress are both too low. Asked if Democrats shouldn't run against other Democrats already in office, 85 percent of voters polled said that anyone who wishes to serve should be encouraged to run for office.

Anticipating the release of the WBUR poll on Thursday morning, Pressley's campaign circulated an email early Thursday touting the results of a Public Policy Polling survey that the campaign said showed "voters quickly move towards Councilor Pressley once they hear the barest of info on her."


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