BOSTON — U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, leads his Republican opponent Gabriel Gomez by a slim margin in a new poll.
Public Policy Polling, which conducts surveys for left-leaning organizations, found 44 percent of voters favoring Markey and 40 percent backing Gomez, a former U.S. Navy SEAL.
The relatively thin margin could encourage conservative donors from around the country to invest in the race.
The survey shows Gomez making a strong showing among independent voters — leading Markey 42 to 24 percent. He also has the support of 21 percent of Democrats.
Those figures suggest that some who backed U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch in his Democratic primary tilt with the more liberal Markey may not be ready to back the party’s nominee.
But if Gomez is making inroads among the voters he needs to win to pull off an upset in deep-blue Massachusetts, he’s not quite there yet.
PPP cautions that Republican Scott Brown had a wider margin among independents when he upset Democrat Martha Coakley in a special U.S. Senate election in 2010, winning those voters 64 to 32 percent in the firm’s final poll.
Markey, moreover, faces a more favorable political climate than Coakley did in 2010. Just 44 percent of Massachusetts voters had a favorable view of President Obama back then, with 43 percent holding an unfavorable view. The split, in the new PPP poll, is 53-41.
The automated poll of 1,539 likely voters, conducted Wednesday and Thursday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.