U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, backed by an arsenal of attack ads and a
huge spending advantage, holds a 20-point lead over GOP rival Gabriel E. Gomez
as the U.S. Senate special election heads into the final days, a new UMass
Lowell/Boston Herald poll shows.
Gomez has been hammered by a late round of negative TV ads that has driven up his unfavorable ratings and hampered his ability to get closer to his Democratic rival, according to the poll of 608 registered Massachusetts voters, including 312 likely voters taken this week.
"Gomez is in a deep hole right now, and it has more to do with lopsided campaign spending than anything else," said Joshua Dyck, co-director of the University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Public Opinion. "Markey is just beating him up."
Markey, the Malden Democrat, leads Gomez by 56 to 36 percent among likely voters and a 53-32 percent advantage among all registered voters in the poll.
The one bright spot for the ex-Navy SEAL is that his best night of polling came this Wednesday, after his final debate performance against Markey. He trailed in that night's sample by 13 points, indicating Gomez gained steam from the televised showdown.
The poll's margin of 20 points is larger than in other recent polls, with several showing Gomez trailing only by single digits.
But the UMass Lowell/Herald poll shows that Gomez is now viewed unfavorably by 33 percent of registered voters, while just 34 percent have a favorable opinion of the Cohasset businessman making his first run for office.
Markey's favorability, meanwhile has risen since the last UMass Lowell poll in March, from 31 to 48 percent, with most Democrats rallying behind the longtime congressman.
Markey could even be getting a boost from the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup run, according to Dyck. The surge in TV viewers for the games has given Markey a captive audience for the Democrats' heavily negative advertising campaign.
The UMass Lowell/Herald poll shows Markey is benefitting from support from President Obama, whose approval rating remains above 60 percent in Massachusetts despite a wave of scandals.
Gomez is leading among independent voters by just a 41-39 percent margin, not nearly enough to overcome the Democrats' huge numbers advantage in Massachusetts.
The poll also shows that the percentage of people who say they trust federal and state government has shot up in the last few months, despite a wave of scandals in the IRS and the disclosure of a widespread government phone snooping program.
Dyck attributes the rise to the good feelings surrounding the police and FBI's quick action to capture and kill the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.
Gov. Deval Patrick's approval numbers have jumped to 63 percent in the current UMass Lowell/Herald poll -- the same as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, which could be a sign that voters are still feeling positive about Patrick and the state's performance in the wake of the bombing.
"This is the 'Boston Strong' era," Dyck said.
(c)2013 the Boston Herald
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