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Poll: US senators should have a cap on age

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (left) and U.S Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both of Massachusetts, greet a gathering at Springfield Technical Community College on Oct. 25, 2022.
Adam Frenier
U.S. Rep. Ayana Pressley (left) and U.S Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both of Massachusetts, greet a gathering at Springfield Technical Community College on Oct. 25, 2022.

A recent University of Massachusetts Amherst and WCVB poll has found some Massachusetts residents favor a maximum age limit for US senators.

Three-quarters of state residents polled expressed some degree of support for an age cap. And, when asked what that limit might be, the average was 67 years old.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, is 74 and is seeking another term next year, while her colleague, Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, is 77 and not up for re-election until 2026.

UMass Amherst political science professor and director of the UMass Poll, Tatishe Nteta, said both senators enjoy strong approval numbers, but, "it is clear that concerns regarding their age might creep in as these senators are on the ballot and potentially serving their third terms."

Nteta said recent health concerns surrounding two senators, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the late Dianne Feinstein pushed the question to the forefront.

Early support for MCAS repeal proposal

The poll also found support for a proposed 2024 ballot question to remove a requirement to pass a standardized test in order to graduate from high school in Massachusetts. Students need to pass the test, known as MCAS, in the 10th grade.

52% agreed with the question, 29% were against and 19% responded “didn't know.”

Nteta said given how early it is, both sides still have an ample opportunity to make their case to voters.

"There's still an opportunity for folks who may oppose this change to mobilize the necessary support and to also persuade those who indicated they support this change to their side, and vice versa," he said.

Supporters of the proposal are in the process of gathering the necessary signatures to get it on next year's ballot.

Biden remains strong in Massachusetts, but Kennedy could be a factor in presidential race

The survey also looked ahead to the 2024 presidential election. In a hypothetical matchup against Democratic President Joe Biden and the current Republican frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, Biden held a 43-21% advantage in Massachusetts among those polled. But it also found the independent bid of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. could be taking voters away from both candidates.

Kennedy checked at 17%. Of his supporters 9% voted for Biden in 2020, but 20% voted for Trump, which Nteta said could be a warning sign to the former president’s campaign.

“Whether these trends are seen outside of the commonwealth remains to be seen, but in 2024 a Kennedy may once again help to defeat a Republican presidential candidate,” Nteta said.

He added, while Kennedy’s campaign has been disowned by many in his family, long a powerful last name in Massachusetts politics, that Kennedy name still holds some influence among voters in the state.

The UMass Amherst/WCVB poll surveyed 700 Massachusetts residents between October 13-20.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.