One group of folks that certainly must be delighted by all of the Massachusetts election activities has to be the polling community. Here in Massachusetts there certainly has been no down time for them. With the upcoming Special Election for U.S. Senate they will be busy for the foreseeable future. WBUR and Mass Inc have just put out some polling data on the Democratic race between U.S. Reps. Steve Lynch and Ed Markey. I have looked it over, and I think it certainly identifies what might be the major point in that race: What ballot will be taken by unenrolled voters? Will they pull a Democratic ballot or a Republican one? The Republicans appear to have four candidates in the race, and at first glance at least three have a plausible road to victory. So there will be a contested primary. What does that have to do with the Democrats? The numbers please!
Let us start by looking at the favorable/unfavorable data. We see some similarities, with Markey having a higher unfavorable. Lynch comes in at 29%/12%, with 30% having no opinion, and 27% never having heard of him. Markey sits at 29%/19%, with 26% undecided, and 25% having never heard of him. Obviously both candidates have an opportunity to shape voter views on themselves, and maybe to shape voter views on the other guy. That is where finances may play a large role. The survey asked which ballot the respondent would be likely to pull, with 48% saying Democratic, 26% Republican, and 27% not willing to say, or saying neither.
In the main event Markey leads Lynch by a 38% to 31% margin, with 26% undecided, and 4% with “other”. So we now return to the question of what the Republican primary has to do with the Democratic primary. Pollster Steve Koczela talked about that factor: From WBUR:
“One of the interesting things about the Democratic primary is it could actually be affected by the Republican primary, and what I mean by that is that where unenrolled voters vote on primary day actually will affect the Democratic primary,” Koczela said. “Right now, Steve Lynch actually does slightly better, I mean within the margin of error, but slightly better among unenrolled voters, and much better than he does among registered Democrats, where Markey has a pretty significant lead.”
The Markey lead with Democrats stands at 42% to 25%, but Lynch leads with unenrolleds who are planning on voting in the Democratic primary by a 38% to 34% margin. So that dynamic certainly will play some sort of role in this race. I am sure that the race is closer than Ed Markey would like, and my own guess is that it will tighten even more in the next few weeks. Another interesting figure shows that Lynch is the stronger candidate against a generic Republican, leading the unnamed R by a 39% to 23% margin, with 38% undecided. Markey’s lead over that generic R is at 38% to 28%, with 34% undecided. That difference is reflected in the larger lead that Lynch has over Republican Dan Winslow, with Lynch leading that match-up by a 44% to 20% margin, with 36% undecided. Markey leads that match-up by a 43% to 24% margin, with 34% undecided. Lynch, at least for today, seems to be the stronger general election candidate.
The survey showed some political strength for former Senator Scott Brown, who has a 58% favorable rating, with 62% saying he should run for office again. Mass Inc also asked about support for Governor Deval Patrick’s program of tax increases to fund transportation and education initiatives. Those that “support” the proposal, (somewhat or strongly)come in at 42%, with those opposed (somewhat or strongly) coming in at 50%, with undecided at 8%. The Governor, for all of the talk about strong opposition to tax hikes, appears to be closer than many might have thought.
The Senate race is just starting, but the outlines of the race are taking shape. After looking at the numbers you would still have to make Steve Lynch the underdog, but you can see a path to victory for him. Link to the WBUR poll here.