In the last couple of days I’ve been wondering why we haven’t had a poll in the Massachusetts special election race for U.S. Senate – the only U.S. Senate race going on right now. In the last three weeks there has been only one poll, an Emerson College survey showing Markey up by 12 points (45-33), which was in the field May 20-22.
Yesterday I noted that the lack of polling largely was responsible for the Cook Report’s recent decision to reclassify the race from “Lean D” to “Toss-up.” In their explanation, Cook stressed that they don’t think Gomez has a very good chance of winning, but that Markey hadn’t “pulled away” in the polling. It’s hard to “pull away” when no polls are being released.
Finally, there is a new poll, this one from New England College. Like that Emerson poll from two weeks ago, it has Markey up by 12. But there are far fewer undecided voters in this poll and, importantly, Markey passed the 50 percent threshold, leading 52-40. The only other poll in which Markey’s score surpassed 50 percent was Suffolk’s poll, nearly a month ago, putting him up 52-35. That poll seemed, at the time, like an outlier. But now the trend clearly is toward a Markey lead in the low double-digits, welcome news indeed.
Read on for more poll details.
- Gomez’s lead among unenrolleds has fallen from above 20 points in the days after his April 30 primary win to a tiny 47-44 in this poll. Scott Brown won unenrolled voters by more than 30 points in 2010. Brown won among independents even in a losing effort in 2012. For Gomez to be running barely better than even in that group is not good for him.
- About 19% of Democratic respondents say they are voting for, or leaning toward Gomez. A bit higher than in some of the other polls but, again, that’s below Scott Brown’s performance among Democrats. In a sign that divisions with the GOP from the primary may not have healed, or that some people really are not impressed by Gomez, Markey is pulling 18% of Republican respondents. Generally, in Massachusetts, it’s easier for a moderate Republican to peel off registered Democrats than it is for a liberal Democrat to peel off Republicans. Given the 3-1 Democratic advantage in registration here, equal scores within their respective parties would favor Markey.
- 22% of respondents still don’t have an opinion on Gomez, but over 60% of that group say they plan to vote for Markey. Gomez may not earn for himself their antipathy during this campaign, but it’s not likely he’ll earn their votes either.
- As one might expect, a big gender gap. Markey leads 56-38 among women, and is tied at 48 among men. Again, Scott Brown did much better among men than this.
- Markey’s support is more solid. His 52 percent in the poll is 45 “strongly” for Markey, 7 “somewhat” for Markey. It’s 48-8 among women and 42-6 among men. Gomez is at 29% “strong” support, 12% “somewhat,” with 34-14 among men and 26-10 among women. So Gomez is more likely to see his support fade than to win over more voters.
- Respondents resoundingly give President Obama (+17), Gov. Patrick (+25), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (+18) favorable job ratings.
- The most important issue, according to respondents, is reducing unemployment. Among that group (about 1/3 of all respondents) Markey leads 72-24. Next came “reducing the deficit.” Among those who think reducing the deficit’s most important, Gomez leads 67-26. Where were all these Republican deficit hawks in the 1980s and from 2001-2008?
- Among those who rated “environmental protection” most important (about 8% of the total), the great environmental champion Ed Markey is up 90-5.
- Markey similarly leads 87-8 among those who said “Women’s Rights” are the most important issue we face. Might explain that gender gap.
- Despite the attack at the Boston Marathon in April, under 5% of respondents (32 people) said terrorism is our number one issue right now. Markey has a slight lead among that group (15-13 with 4 undecided). So much for Gomez’s 9/11 demagoguery.
Reminder: the first debate is tomorrow, with others to follow on the next two Tuesdays, June 11 and June 18. The Tuesday after that is the June 25 election.