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NEW: Markey Leads Gomez By Double Digits—UMass-Lowell Poll

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Good news for US Representative Edward Markey, who leads Gabriel Gomez in the latest poll from UMass-Lowell.

US Rep. Edward Markey has a double-digit lead over businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez, with just days left before the Special Election for an open Massachusetts US Senate seat, according to the latest UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll.

Markey, a Democrat, leads Republican Gomez 56 to 36 percent among likely voters (7 percent undecided) and 53 to 32 percent among registered voters in the race to fill the seat vacated by John Kerry, who resigned earlier this year to become U.S. secretary of state. Of voters who said they plan to vote for Markey, 76 percent said this is a firm choice compared to 67 percent of voters who said they will vote for Gomez.

The independent, nonpartisan poll was conducted on behalf of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and the Boston Herald and surveyed 608 Massachusetts registered voters between Saturday, June 15 and Wednesday, June 19. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for registered voters and plus or minus 5.6 percentage points for likely voters.

Markey favorability rising

Markey’s favorability rating has increased to 48 percentage points – up from 31 percentage points in March when the last UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll on the Senate race was released – and his unfavorable rating has remains steady, going from 20 to 22 percent among registered voters. In March, 53.4 percent of those polled had never heard of Gomez (compared to 32 percent who had never heard of Markey) and his favorability rating was 9 percent. The new poll indicates that 93 percent of voters have heard of Gomez, who is viewed favorably by 34 percent and unfavorably by 33 percent of registered voters. Thirty-three percent of registered voters and 26 percent of independents considered Gomez “too conservative” while 24 percent of registered voters and 38 percent of independents indicated Markey is “too liberal.”

“Markey’s wide lead is likely explained by the fact that that there are many more Democrats than Republicans in Massachusetts and this race has not garnered the type of national attention that the 2010 special election between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley did. Additionally, Gomez’s unfavorables have gone up sharply, likely because he is being outspent by Markey. For voters who are not paying much attention, all that they are likely to know about Gomez is that he is a Republican and whatever else may have been gleaned from negative campaign ads. Absent significant outside investment from Republican donors and interest groups to match Markey’s campaign advertisements, Gomez’s chances of turning this election around in the last week are not good,” said Joshua Dyck, Ph.D., co-director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion and associate professor of political science.

The poll also found that Markey leads Gomez in all gender, age, education, income and ethnic categories.

Gender and other gaps

“Markey’s lead is bolstered by a sizeable gender gap. He leads Gomez among men by 12 percentage points, but among women, he leads by 29 percentage points,” said Dyck, who noted that while some interviews for the poll were conducted following the June 18 debate between Gomez and Markey, there was no statistically significant change. Among those surveyed on June 19, there was a small decrease in Markey’s lead and a small increase in undecided voters.

In addition to the Senate race, the poll asked voters whether they trust the government and approve of President Obama’s job performance, as well as whether they are aware of recent news involving the IRS’ handling of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, controversy over the State Department’s response to the Benghazi embassy attack and the National Security Agency’s surveillance of civilian telephone and Internet use.

Nearly 60 percent of Massachusetts registered voters polled reported they are following coverage of the political scandals very closely (25 percent) or moderately closely (34 percent), with Republicans more likely (by 15 percentage points) than Democrats to report they are following the issues very closely.

The Obama Effect

Despite those issues and a declining national approval rating, President Obama is popular in Massachusetts, with 61 percent of registered voters saying they strongly or somewhat approve of how the president is handling his job. Only 24 percent said they approve of how Congress is doing its job.

The percentage of Massachusetts voters who said the federal government could be trusted “just about always” or “most of the time” has increased from 12 percent in the March 2013 poll to 30 percent. However, 59 percent of those surveyed said it can be trusted “only some of the time,” while 10 percent said it could “never” be trusted.

Based on the comparison between the polls, the gridlock surrounding the federal budget and sequester earlier in the year had a bigger impact on trust in the federal government than all of the current controversies combined, according to Dyck.

Other findings from the poll include:

Thirty-four percent of registered voters said the economy is the most important issue in politics, followed by jobs at 27 percent, immigration (12 percent), gun laws (10 percent) and environmental issues (7 percent).

Sixty-five percent of registered voters polled said they favor a federal ban on assault weapons, while 27 percent were opposed. Among Republicans, 49 percent favored a ban with 41 opposed.

Of potential 2014 gubernatorial candidates, Scott Brown has the highest favorability rating (49 percent, down from 60 percent in the March poll), followed by fellow Republican Charlie Baker (17 percent) and Democrat Steve Grossman (14 percent). The poll was initiated before Democrat Donald Berwick declared his candidacy.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Deval Patrick both have higher favorability ratings than they did in March. Warren is viewed favorably by 63 percent of registered voters in the new poll, compared with 51.1 percent of those polled in March. Patrick also has a 63 percent favorability rating among voters surveyed, compared to 50.6 percent in March.

Trust in Massachusetts’ state government is also up to 44 percent, compared to 28 percent in March.

Results for the UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll are based on interviews with a random sample of 600 Massachusetts voters conducted via landline and cellular telephones by RKM Research and Communications, directed by R. Kelly Myers, president. The poll was designed and analyzed by Dyck. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. More information on the poll methodology and full polling data are available at http://www.uml.edu/polls.


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