Massachusetts Senate Special Election Race Still Looks Tight

by Stuart Rothenberg May 12, 2013 · 10:01 PM EDT

A new poll conducted for Republican Gabriel Gomez’s campaign shows Gomez trailing Democratic Rep. Ed Markey by just three points.

The May 5-7 poll of 800 likely special election voters by OnMessage, Inc., a Republican political consulting firm, found Markey leading Gomez 46 percent to 43 percent, with 11 percent undecided. According to an OnMessage polling memo, respondents “were stratified by county based on previous election results to reflect historic voter trends.”

The survey found Markey’s name ID at 45 percent favorable/35 percent unfavorable to Gomez’s 43 percent favorable/15 percent unfavorable.

Markey held a 73 percent-12 percent lead over Gomez among Democrats, while Gomez held a 94 percent to 3 percent lead among Republicans. The contest remains very competitive because the Republican held a 50 percent to 36 percent advantage among Independents.

The poll also found President Barack Obama, D, with strong poll numbers in the state. His job approval stood at 60 percent, compared to only 39 percent who disapproved, and his name ID ratings were an equally strong 58 percent favorable/38 percent unfavorable. By comparison, former GOP Senator Scott Brown’s name ID was 53 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable in the survey.

The OnMessage, Inc. survey results are consistent with polls conducted in early May by Emerson College, MassINC, and Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina-based Democratic firm, all of which showed Markey holding a narrow, single-digit lead over Gomez in a tight race. A fourth survey, conducted by Suffolk University, found Markey leading by 17 points and drawing 55 percent in the ballot test.

Because of the state’s strong Democratic bent, Markey started the race to replace Senator Mo Cowan, D, who was appointed to fill the seat of now-Secretary of State John Kerry, D, as an obvious favorite. But if the OnMessage, Inc. poll is correct, the contest currently is quite competitive. And if it is competitive, Democrats undoubtedly will ratchet up their attacks on Gomez in an effort to discredit him