Former Sen. Scott Brown leads the likely field to replace outgoing Sen. John Kerry, who is leaving the Senate to become the next Secretary of State. Two recent polls of Massachusetts show Brown with the lead over potential rivals Rep. Ed Markey and Rep. Stephen Lynch.
A poll by MassInc released Friday showed Brown with a commanding 53-31 percent advantage over Markey. Against a generic Democrat, Brown faired worse, although still leading 44-36 percent. Markey's numbers definitely suffer from a lack of name recognition. The long-time representative is not well known outside his Boston suburban district. More voters had no opinion of Markey (59 percent) than those with a positive view of Brown (55 percent). Voters clearly want an opportunity to get to know multiple Democratic candidates, with 72 percent saying they preferred a competitive Democratic primary to select a candidate.
A Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll released Wednesday also showed Brown with the early edge, but by a much smaller margin. Brown led Markey by only three points, 48-45 percent. In what could be bad news for Brown, more than two-thirds of currently undecided voters chose Warren in November, and if those voters stay Democratic, Markey would have a one-point lead.
If there is a Democratic primary, Markey is already the favorite to win. Markey leads Lynch (who kicked off his run in Springfield on Thursday) by a whopping 52-19 percent. PPP found no name recognition problem for Markey with self-identified Democrats, who viewed him favorably by 58 percent, while only 13 percent viewed him unfavorably. Lynch was actually viewed unfavorably by 28 percent of respondents vs. only 27 percent favorable.
The biggest question is whether or not Brown will run at all. PPP asked respondents if they would rather Brown run for senator or governor. While half of respondents wanted Brown to run for either office (by equal 25 percent margins), Republican voters preferred Brown as their candidate for governor by 10 points, 48-38 percent. Brown is expected to make his decision about the race in the coming week.
The winner of the special election won't have much time to enjoy the victory. Kerry's term expires in 2014, so the winner will face re-election less than 18 months after taking office.