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NEC Poll: Markey widens lead over Gomez

Women Voters and Better Ground Game Fueling Democrat’s Momentum

With only a few days until the voters of Massachusetts cast their votes, the latest New England College Poll indicates Ed Markey is surging ahead of Republican Gabriel Gomez.  Following a three-night effort to gather public opinion, Congressman Markey now holds a 20-point lead over Republican businessman Gomez 56%-36%.  8% say they are still unsure going into the final weekend of the special election campaign for US Senate.  The margin of error is 4.07%

The Polling Center conducted a telephone poll of 579 likely voters, from June 18-20. A similar poll conducted at the beginning of the month showed Markey up by 12 percentage points. The numbers indicate Congressman Markey has stretched his lead because of growing support among women and because of a better ground game.

The gender gap tells much of the story of the numbers.  Women voters indicate they support Markey by 61% to 32%. Men break fairly evenly among the two Senate candidates.

“We are not surprised that Markey has extended his lead,” explains Wayne Lesperance, Director of the New England College Center of Civic Engagement.  “Voters identified issues of concern to women as a significant factor in determining their vote. The issue of women’s rights was identified ahead of environmental protection, national defense, terrorism and inflation and Markey has strong support among women voters.”

In addition, the NEC poll uncovers what appears to be a decided advantage for Markey in the area of grassroots outreach.   The poll showed that among voters interviewed in recent days, 58% of respondents indicated that one campaign or another has contacted them.  Among contacted voters, Congressman Markey leads Republican Gomez by 65% to 29%. “This polling data shows the democratic campaign has been effective at raising awareness of the election and rallying support for their nominee,” said Ben Tafoya the Director of the Polling Center. “In addition, major campaign events such as visits by Presidents Obama and Clinton, the strong personal contact by volunteers and the higher spending by Markey on advertising has increased his support and slightly weakened that of Gomez.”

The number one issue on the minds of voters is “lowering the unemployment rate”, followed by the federal deficit.  For those voters identifying the jobs, the environment, and women’s rights as top priorities, there is overwhelming support for Ed Markey.  For those identifying the federal deficit and lowering taxes the number one choice was Gabriel Gomez.

Both candidates continue to hold strong leads among their respective bases with Gabriel Gomez garnering 81% support among Republicans. Gomez also holds his own among Un-enrolled/Independent voters, with 45% support.  The overwhelming Democratic registration edge and Markey’s strong support among Democrats, 88%, means that Gomez continues to struggle to break through to be competitive in the closing days of the race.

The NEC Poll found current national and statewide Massachusetts officeholders have a positive job evaluation among Massachusetts’s voters.  President Barack Obama’s approval stands at 59% to 37%.  Governor Deval Patrick’s job approval is a healthy 61% to 30%.  Senator Elizabeth Warren’s approval is 54% to 28%. “The popularity of the President tracks well with the potential vote for Ed Markey,” says Tafoya. “The Markey campaign has successfully tied Markey to popular leaders such as President Obama.”

“We have to keep in mind that this election is decided by the voters on Tuesday June 25th and polls don’t elect anybody,” explains Tafoya.  “In a special election it is particularly difficult to predict who will vote and those folks make the decision.”