A group of Emerson College students today released a poll that says Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will likely fill U.S. Senator John Kerry's seat if he takes over for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Emerson College Polling Society has been dormant for about seven years, but less than a month ago the student group published its first survey since 2005 with the hope of keeping the masses informed.
Today's poll is the first to examine the anticipated special election.
About 1,050 registered Massachusetts voters were polledbetween Sunday and Tuesday by means of automated phone calls. Their feedback put Patrick ahead of U.S. Senator Scott Brown (48 percent to 43 percent) as well as former Governor William Weld (50 percent to 32 percent).
"Last year we learned the skills necessary to do the polling," said 20-year-old Communications student Felix Chen, who headed up the poll. "This being the 2012 election season, there was a tremendous interest among the student population."
This recent rekindling of the polling club will likely be the start of a new era for the group.
"Our plan is to publish a poll every week when we come back next semester. People appreciate it because most of the time we think about what is important in our life, not what happens in the broader picture," said Chen.
On Nov. 29 the group released its first poll since February 2005 - a national poll that examined the Fiscal Cliff. Then on Dec. 11, it put out findings on veterans who seek anonymous treatment of PTSD.
The first poll of the New Year will focus on public attitudes toward gun control; a timely topic considering last week's mass shooting in Newtown, C.T.
The polling club gets help from Spencer Kimball, a scholar-in-residence in the Communication Studies Department who is also a freelance political consultant.
"We are hoping it will help facilitate a discussion about guns. To me its great to see students engaged in this type of conversation," said Kimball.
Emerson College President Lee Pelton recently put out a plea to college presidents across the nation asking to lead campus discussions next semester on how best to address gun violence in America.
While a difference of opinion is unavoidable, Chen said he believes it is helpful to gather data, organize it and put it out in the public sphere.
"Gun control is definitely an issue we wanted to look at considering the recent shootings... It is important to get an idea of what the masses really think. We can't just assume," he said.
The polling society is mostly made up of political communication students, Kimball said, however members are hoping to recruit more journalism and marketing students.
"One of the biggest hurdles at Emerson is a phobia of numbers. We are working on showing it's really not as complicated as it looks if you understand the process," he said.
Today's poll also shows that Brown leads Vicki Kennedy, the widow of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy by 46 percent to 40 percent.
While Patrick may win the head-to-head contest, 38 percent of those surveyed believed Brown would be the next U.S. Senator, 14 percent named Patrick, followed by 10 percent selecting Attorney General Martha Coakley then Kennedy with 7 percent, and former Governor Weld with 3 percent.
In a hypothetical competitive primary between Patrick, Kennedy, Coakley and Congressman Mike Capuano, there was no clear front runner, according the poll.
Patrick got 20 percent of Democrat voters support while Kennedy was within the margin at 16 percent, Capuano at 13 percent and Coakley had 11 percent.
Thirty-percent of Democrat primary voters were undecided.
Brown has overwhelming support among GOP voters to be their party nominee, ahead of Weld by the comfortable margin of 80 percent to 7 percent, among those polled.
Watch a video on political polling at Emerson College below: