PPP, the left leaning polling organization, released a poll on Friday that showed Democratic nominee Ed Markey clinging to a 44% to 40% lead over Republican nominee Gabriel Gomez in the Massachusetts special election to select a new Senator to take the place of now Secretary of State John Kerry.
The poll confirmed how close this race is following Thursday’s Emerson College poll that showed Markey had only a 6% lead over Gomez.
The PPP poll of 1,539 Massachusetts voters has a 2.5% margin of error and was conducted on May 1 and May 2. Tthese were the first two full days after the primary election in which Democratic voters picked Markey and Republican voters picked Gomez as the candidates for their respective parties in the special election that will be held on June 25.
The smaller 4% Markey lead reported in the PPP poll on Friday gives the impression that momentum is swinging in Gomez’s direction. There may be something to that, since the PPP poll was conducted on both May 1, the day the Emerson College poll was conducted, and May 2, the day when the Emerson College poll of the previous day’s results were reported.
The PPP poll results contained several surprises. It found that “Gomez is starting out as a pretty popular candidate, with 41% of voters rating him favorably to 27% with an unfavorable opinion.” Importantly, Gomez is polling well not only with Republicans, with his numbers “at 42/24 with independents, and actually seen narrowly positively even by Democrats at 33/32.”
Markey, in contrast, has a 44% positive to 41% negative rating with the voters.
Though the results are encouraging for Republicans, Massachusetts remains strongly Democratic and very pro-Obama. Gomez remains well below the pre-election polling results that preceded Scott Brown’s January 2010 upset victory over Martha Coakley. The poll shows Gomez leads Markey among independents by 16 points, but Brown beat Coakley among independents by 32 points.
Similarly, President Obama has a 53/41 approval rating among Massachusetts voters today, much higher than the 44/43 rating he had in January 2010 when Brown beat Coakley.
PPP’s polling analysis concludes that the race may be in play, though Markey has the advantage. “Markey is the favorite, but it does look like this could be another closer than expected Massachusetts Senate special election.”