Democratic Congressman Ed Markey holds a formidable 12% lead over Republican Gabriel Gomez in the race to succeed Secretary of State John Kerry. However, there are clear signs of opportunity for Gomez.
Republican and Democratic voters have put their jerseys on for their respective teams as Markey gets 80% of the Democratic vote and Gomez gets 81% of the Republican vote. Among independent voters, the race is tied at 41-41%.
Simply put, Gomez trails because there are more Democrats than Republicans in the state. In the next two weeks, the challenge for Gomez is to open up a sizable lead among independents. There are reasons to believe this is possible.
First, the bad. A Gomez appeal to independents should be tilted toward women. He trails Markey among women by 26% (55-29%) and is tied among men (44-44%).
Markey is getting 77% of the vote among self-identified Liberals and Gomez gets 71% of Conservatives. Among Moderates, who are 48% of the sample, Markey leads 53-39%.
Now, the good. At +22%, Gomez has a far better image among independents than Markey (42% favorable, 42% unfavorable). Translating that to the ballot is the challenge for Gomez. He must conquer the reflexive instinct of independent voters in Massachusetts to vote for the Democrat even when they have doubts about him.