January 30, 2013
A Scott Brown/Ed Markey race to replace John Kerry in Massachusetts would start out as a toss up, PPP's newest poll of the state finds. Markey is a clear favorite over Stephen Lynch in a potential primary contest, and Brown would have an easier path to the Governor's office than a return to the Senate.
Brown starts out leading Markey by just 3 points in a head to head match up, 48/45. 69% of the voters currently undecided voted for Elizabeth Warren in November, while only 17% of them voted for Brown. If those folks ended up voting for the same party that they did in November, Markey would lead Brown by a point. Brown may be starting out at 48%, but it's a very hard path to 50 for him given who the undecideds are.
The comparatively large number of undecided voters who lean Democratic is a function of Markey having 73% name recognition at this point compared to 93% for Brown. Markey starts out as the much stronger potential Democratic candidate- Lynch trails Brown by 9 points at 48/39.
The primary for the special election looks like it will be a blowout. Markey starts out with a 52/19 lead over Lynch. Lynch actually has a net negative favorability rating with Democratic voters- only 27% see him positively to 28% with a negative opinion. Markey, on the other hand, is quite popular with the party base- 58% of Democrats have a favorable opinion of him to only 13% with an unfavorable one.
The Senate race looks like about a 50/50 proposition for Brown at this point. Republican voters, by a 48/38 margin, would actually prefer that Brown run for Governor rather than the Senate. And our polling finds that Brown would start out as a pretty strong favorite for that office.
With the decisions of several high profile Democrats recently not to run for Governor next year, none of the folks who we tested as possible candidates for the office have very high name recognition. 44% of voters are familiar with Steve Grossman, 36% with Carmen Ortiz, and 21% with Don Berwick. Brown would start out with substantial leads against anyone in that trio. He's up 11 points over Grossman at 48/37, and 17 points over Berwick and Ortiz at 49/32.
Brown has a tough choice to make in the coming days- there's a very real chance that if he runs against Markey he'll be handed his second loss in just over six months, tagging him with a loser label that could make it hard for him to run for office again in the future. Or he could take on a weaker field of Democrats in the Gubernatorial race. Either way Massachusetts will be the most interesting state in the country electorally during the first half of 2013.