Democrat Ed Markey has a hefty lead over his Republican opponent Gabriel Gomez in the special election to replace Sen. John Kerry, according to the latest polling.
Markey, a longtime House member, garnered 52 percent versus Gomez's 35 percent, with 11 percent of voters saying they are undecided ahead of the June 25 match-up, according to a Suffolk University/WHDH-TV survey released Thursday.
A previous poll released last Friday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed the two men much closer, with Markey leading 44 percent to Gomez's 40 percent.
"Ed Markey begins this race where he left off with his win in the Democratic Primary: exceeding expectations," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston in a memo accompanying the results.
Gomez, a businessman and political newcomer, is hoping to capitalize on the success of Scott Brown, a Republican who was able to defeat a well-known Democrat in the special election two years ago to replace Sen. Ted Kennedy.
"The early perception immediately after the party primaries was that Markey was vulnerable," Paleologos said. "These findings suggest the opposite of a close race – that Ed Markey begins the sprint to June with a large lead over his Republican opponent who voters are unsure about."
The race is likely to get closer as a third of voters say they have heard of Gomez, but are undecided about whether or not they view him favorably. But the poll also shows that Markey's decision to hit Gomez for declining to join a pact against outside spending in the race has legs – 71 percent of voters called it a very or somewhat important issue.
And voters aren't particularly upset that Brown, who lost in the 2012 election to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, took a pass on running in this special election. Only 35 percent said they were disappointed he didn't run compared to 63 percent who were not.
The Suffolk poll surveyed 500 likely voters from May 4 to May 7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.