A Tight Senate Race (For Today)

Public Policy has just released the first poll I have seen on the race between Ed Markey and Gabriel Gomez, and it shows a tight race. I discussed this race on air with WCAP morning host Ted Panos before I read this poll, and my predictions of a relatively easy Democratic win may need to be revisited. But the very close race has some underlying numbers that still show how difficult it will be for Gabriel Gomez to win this race. The numbers please.

The head to head match-up shows Ed Markey leading Gabriel Gomez by a 44%-40% margin, tighter than many might have anticipated. Another piece of good news for Republicans is the Ed Markey favorable/unfavorable numbers, which are somewhat ominous for Markey, with 44% favorable, 41% unfavorable, and 15% undecided. That high unfavorable rating is an inviting target for Gomez, who could, with early money, try to drive it to the 50% mark. Gomez has a 41% favorable, with a 27% unfavorable, and 32% undecided. I think it would be expected that a 30 year veteran of elective politics would have a higher unfavorable number than a newcomer. How that changes will depend on the campaign, and each campaigns ability to invest early money to define the opposition.

Of course I must go where I always go, to the “independent” voter. In order for any Republican to win this race the margins with independents must be fairly large. Gomez currently leads with independents by a 47% to 31% margin. While the Public Policy narrative seems impressed with this, it is not enough of a margin. Gomez is also holding over 20% of Democrats, impressive and necessary for him if he is to have a chance at victory. But I remind that Scott Brown, in his race with Elizabeth Warren, held some Democratic support early in that race. A concerted, and expensive, effort was undertaken to separate Brown from that Democratic support. It worked. Look for some investment by the Markey campaign to bring those Democrats back home. Public Policy, in the press release, highlighted some of advantages they see for Ed Markey:

The good news for Markey in the poll beyond the obvious fact that he’s in the lead is that Barack Obama remains pretty popular in the state. He has a 53/41 approval rating. Obama was at only 44/43 when Brown won in 2010 and the President’s lack of popularity was a big contributor to the upset. He’s in a much better position this time around. The pool of undecided voters also sets up well for Markey- they voted for Obama by 18 points in November, 32% are liberals compared to only 25% who are conservatives, and 61% of them are women. Those are all demographics that ought to end up favorable to him in the end.

Some truth there, but it is not a Presidential election cycle, which is advantage Gomez. I still make Markey a 3-1 betting favorite, and as I said to Teddy Panos Gomez will require some major infusions of cash in order to overcome the Democratic home field advantage. And he will need it early, before the Markey financial edge manages to define him for the electorate.

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