Tensions are rising in the Massachusetts special election to fill the senate seat previously held by current Secretary of State John Kerry. Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez is giving 37-year Democratic Rep. Ed Markey a tough fight in the race that is set for June 25.
Despite the history of blue in Massachusetts, an internal poll is showing a close race between Gomez and Markey. The poll conducted by OnMessage, Inc., projected a current lead by the long-serving Democratic congressman to Gomez of only 46-43. With a 3.4% margin of error, the race is seemingly too close to call. Similar findings published by Public Policy Polling have Markey ahead of Gomez by four points, a meager lead when comparing resumes between tenured Markey and newcomer Gomez.
While Republican voters in Massachusetts consistently approve of the GOP candidate Gomez, the approval appears to be even more promising among independents. The approval among independents gives Gomez the boost he needs to remain a contender in the traditionally Democratic state. In addition to his own ratings, the split approval of Markey sheds more promise for Gomez. While 44% of voters see Markey favorably, 41% do not approve. The divide increases with independents who are split in approval to disapproval by 31-50. The disfavor voters have for Markey allows Gomez more promise as the race undoubtedly heats up.
Given the history of Massachusetts and the record number of terms by Markey, Democrats remain confident that he will finish strong. Following the tough week of challenges for Democrats in Washington, Gomez will need to rise to the occasion if he hopes to overcome the small lead his opponent has over him. While Markey remains the likely choice in the election, independent voters may hold his energy policies against him as he sought to prevent natural gas exports at a time of global competition. This opening for Gomez to win over independent votes may be his chance to close the tight race.
While the race remains close, we can expect both sides to tighten up their campaigns to bridge the gap. Markey will most likely increase his criticism of the hopeful Gomez in hopes if increasing his lead, while Gomez will need to influence independents as a lever for his election. The upcoming weeks will determine whether Gomez stands a chance on the June 25 election or if Democrats were overconfident in Markey.