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.
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.
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