For the second time in a week, a new poll shows Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., holding a significant lead over fellow Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch in the race to succeed Secretary of State John Kerry in the Senate.
A UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll shows Markey ahead 50 percent to 21 percent among potential Democratic primary voters. Markey leads, 38 percent to 21 percent, among Democratic-leaning independents, a group considered key to the more moderate Lynch's path to victory.
Earlier this week, the League of Conservation Voters and NARAL Pro-Choice America, two groups that have endorsed Markey, released a poll with Markey leading Lynch by a smaller margin, 42 percent to 28 percent. The LCV/NARAL poll was conducted among likely primary voters, while the UMass Lowell-Herald poll included all registered Democrats, plus those independents who said they leaned more towards Democrats.
But the poll results add to a growing consensus among Bay State politicos that Markey, who has the backing of national Democrats and a host of local officials, is distancing himself from Lynch in the primary battle. Lynch's campaign suffered a significant setback last week when the state AFL-CIO declined to endorse in the race. The former ironworker and union president had been counting on union support to counterbalance Markey's establishment backing.
Whichever Democrat emerges from the April 30 primary will enter the general election campaign a significant favorite, according to the UMass Lowell-Herald poll. In a series of one-on-one matchups, both Markey and Lynch have hefty leads over the three candidates seeking the GOP nomination: former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez, former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Dan Winslow.
Former GOP Sen. Scott Brown, who disappointed national Republicans when he passed on the special election, remains popular in the state. Sixty percent of registered voters said they have a favorable view of Brown, while 24 percent said they have an unfavorable view.
Brown has said he is considering running for governor in 2014, and the poll shows solid support for his potential candidacy: 59 percent of registered voters said they would be very likeley or somewhat likely to support Brown's gubernatorial bid, while 31 percent said they would be somewhat unlikely or very unlikely.
The UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll was conducted March 2-5. The survey of 589 registered voters carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points, while the subsample of 309 potential Democratic primary voters has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.6 percentage points.