05/08/13 Rep. Edward Markey, the Democratic nominee for the open Senate seat in Massachusetts, is leading his Republican challenger Gabriel Gomez with a strong double-digit margin in a new poll. Markey takes 52 percent support to Gomez's 35 percent support in the Suffolk University/7 News poll, with 11 percent of respondents undecided. The new poll is considerably more favorable for Markey than the last survey of the general election landscape, which showed him up over Gomez by only four percentage points. That survey, by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling came as a surprise to many Democrats, as Markey is considered the frontrunner in blue-leaning Massachusetts, where Obama won with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2012. But Gomez was buoyed by strong support among independents in that poll, who are more evenly split in the Suffolk University poll, breaking 43-41 percent in favor of Gomez. Markey is significantly more popular than Gomez, however, with 53 percent of respondents viewing him favorably to 30 percent who view him negatively. Thirty-eight percent view Gomez favorably, while 23 percent view him unfavorably. The nearly one-third of respondents who say they're still undecided about Gomez indicates both candidates still have an opening to define the Republican in the early weeks of the general election campaign. One way Markey is attempting to do so is by hammering Gomez for his refusal to sign a pledge to keep outside money out of the race, and this new poll indicates that might be a winning argument in the eyes of Massachusetts voters. Seventy-one percent said the "People's Pledge," as it's known in Massachusetts, is a very or somewhat important campaign issue. The pledge may resonate even with voters in Gomez's base, and the coveted unenrolled bloc of Massachusetts voters: A plurality of Republicans, and a majority of independent and Democratic voters, believe it's an important issue. The survey was conducted among 500 likely voters from May 4-7 and has a margin of error of 4-percentage points.
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