In A Senate Race That Once Seemed Fluid, Traditional Allegiances Took Hold

Rep. Ed Markey campaigned at Cafe on the Common in Waltham Sunday. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Rep. Ed Markey campaigned at Cafe on the Common in Waltham Sunday. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Public opinion surveys have put U.S. Rep. Edward Markey ahead of former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez since the start of the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race.

But there was a fluid feel to the race in the early going.

Markey's lead was slim in the opening weeks; a WBUR poll, from May, gave him a six-point edge. And there were large blocs of undecided voters.

There was some potential, it seemed, for a scrambling of traditional political allegiances.

A close look at the polls, though, suggest those allegiances only hardened over the course of the campaign. Women cleaved to Markey, the Democrat; Republican voters rallied around Gomez, the GOP nominee.

Below: a chart detailing shifts among various voter subgroups over the course of three WBUR polls.

(Source: MassINC Polling Group)
(Source: MassINC Polling Group)

The trend lines in the WBUR surveys find some echo in the full body of public polling in the race.

Blogger Brent Benson has compiled all 16 surveys in one spot -- dividing up the "undecided" voters equally among both candidates in each poll.

In the first six surveys of the campaign, Markey's lead among women averaged 20 percent. In the last six polls, it was 27 percent.

Benson's data also show Gomez's tightening grip, over time, on the GOP base.

The WBUR surveys suggest Markey had a harder time getting Democrats in line — his support plateauing in the low-60s.

That's well below the 89 percent of Democrat Elizabeth Warren corralled when she defeated Republican Scott Brown in the U.S. Senate race last fall.

But in the weeks since the final WBUR survey, other polls suggest Democrats are coming home to Markey.

He was leading 83-12 among the party faithful in a Boston Globe survey conducted June 11-14. And he had an 81-11 edge in a Suffolk University poll conducted June 21-23.

With Democrats holding a 3-to-1 edge over Republican among registered voters, that large margin more than made up in the polls for Gomez's big lead among GOP voters and smaller-than-necessary edge among independents.

But perhaps the Democratic rank-and-file's allegiances were never seriously in doubt.

When Benson stripped out the undecideds and divided them up evenly among the candidates, Markey had a bid lead among Democrats — right from the start of the campaign.

This program aired on June 25, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.


More from WBUR

Listen Live