Markey Remains In The Lead In Massachusetts

Congressman Ed Markey continues to maintain a lead in the race to fill John Kerry’s Senate seat, although two new polls disagree about the size of his lead. First, a new Suffolk University poll seems to show Markey’s lead slipping:

Massachusetts Rep.  Ed Markey (D) faces  Gabriel Gomez (R) for John Kerry’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

A new poll from Suffolk University suggests that we could have another close special election for a Senate seat in Massachusetts on our hands.

Two weeks before the election for the seat formerly held by Secretary of State John Kerry, Democratic Rep. Ed Markey leads Republican Gabriel Gomez among likely voters by seven points, 48 to 41 percent.

That’s a significant shift from a month ago, when Suffolk had Markey leading Gomez 50 to 35 percent.

At the same time, a new poll fromWBUR  shows Markey’s double digit lead as being solid:

BOSTON — With two weeks to go until the special Massachusetts U.S. Senate election, a new WBUR poll (PDFs - toplinecrosstabs) suggests Republican Gabriel Gomez is struggling to chip away at Democrat Edward Markey’s small, but consistent lead.

The survey, conducted after the first televised debate between the two candidates, shows Markey with a 46-39 edge.

The Democrat’s lead hasn’t changed much since the last WBUR poll, from early May, which gave him an eight-point edge.

It also hews closely to a Suffolk University survey released Monday.

“The race really isn’t moving very far, very fast — and time is running out,” said Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, which conducts surveys for WBUR.

The new poll of 500 likely voters, conducted June 6-9, suggests two key blocs have held steady over the last month.

Women continue to favor Markey by wide margins — his 17-point edge in the May WBUR poll is now at 20 points.

And Gomez’s advantage with independents — his three-point lead is now a five-point edge — remains too small for a Republican trying to engineer an upset in a blue state like Massachusetts.

“He’s not doing what he needs to do,” Koczela said. “As a Republican, you need to run up a pretty significant score among…independents. We’re talking 30 to 35 points.”

There’s also a poll out there showing the race tied, but it’s from a Republican polling firm and should be discounted. At the moment, RealClearPolitics puts Markey’s average lead at +9.8, down slightly because of the Suffolk poll but still pretty respectable. Many on the right are pointing to that poll as evidence that Gomez still has a show at winning this race. However, Charlie Cook notes that the GOP needs to manage expectations in this race:

Markey’s campaign has been uninspiring and underwhelming, giving Republicans further hope that an upset is possible. For a time, polls were all over the map, with results ranging from as close as 3 or 4 points—basically within the surveys’ margins of error—to Markey advantages of 17 and 19 points. Three weeks ago, several polls showed Markey with an anemic lead, nothing approaching what one might expect in a state where Democrats have won the presidential race by 20 or more points in five consecutive elections. These findings prompted The Cook Political Report to shift its rating from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss-Up.” Markey is clearly underperforming, but is it bad enough to allow for an upset in a low-turnout special election, in what is an extremely Democratic state?

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the (pro-Democratic) Senate Majority PAC added to the story line that the race had closed when they combined to purchase $1.25 million in television time late last week. Both groups used their “go to” arguments against Republicans. They accused Gomez of supporting tax cuts for the wealthy and threatening Social Security benefits. These ads are the first by outside groups in the general election, although Markey has been getting help with voter contact from the League of Conservation Voters. The question is whether it was panic on the part of Democrats or just insurance; it looks more like the latter. No Republican outside groups have come to Gomez’s aid yet.


With another two weeks to go, the race certainly isn’t over, but the chance of an upset looks decidedly less likely today than three or four weeks ago.

I tend to agree. At the moment, this looks like Markey’s race, and the odds of Gomez repeating Scott Brown’s victory back in January 2010 seem pretty small.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. stonetools says:

    I’m waiting for Mr. Precious Metal to weigh in on this. He’s got the secret sauce.
    I’m also waiting for the Unskewer. I figure when he calls it for Gomez, we can rest easy knowing that Markey is safe.

    Markey’s campaign has been uninspiring and underwhelming, giving Republicans further hope that an upset is possible

    What is about guys like Markey? You would think he knows how to do a good campaign, after all these years! Maybe since he was in a safe seat, he wasn’t challenged. Anyway, it’s time for him to take a page out of Warren’s campaign and start beating Gomez over the head with some of the national Republican Party’s greatest hits.

  2. CSK says:


    You’re right about the safe seat. Markey really hasn’t had to campaign for 37 years. And he’s not Mr. Sprakling Personality, which makes a spirited campaign all that much more difficult for him to pull off. He’s not as bad a campaigner as was Coakley–no one is–but he’s never really had to exert himself to win.

    As for Gomez, he’s a fiscal conservative and laissez-faire to liberal on social issues, which has always played well in Massachusetts. He supports same-sex marriage and regards Roe.v Wade as settled law. Because most Massachusetts residents respond well to a fiscally conservative message, Markey has been left to try to paint Gomez as some kind of Yankee-Hispanic version of Todd Akin, which he isn’t.

    Markey will probably win, but Gomez presented a bigger challenge o him than he probably expected.

  3. Ed in NJ says:

    So Cook decided to try to influence the race by changing it to a tossup due to, what…..wishful thinking? That’s some gold standard hackery right there. Liberal media!!!!!