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Suffolk poll has Edward Markey ahead by 7 points

A new poll of likely voters released Monday found Democrat Edward J. Markey leading Republican Gabriel E. Gomez by seven percentage points, two weeks before Massachusetts voters choose their next US Senator.

The Suffolk University poll found Markey ahead 48 percent to Gomez’s 41 percent, with 10 percent of respondents still undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percent.

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The race appears to have tightened substantially since early May, when a Suffolk University/7 News poll found that Markey had a 17-point lead over Gomez.

Each candidate has gone on the attack in recent weeks. Still, in the new poll, the candidates were both viewed more favorably than unfavorably by voters.

Forty-four percent of those polled had a favorable opinion of Markey, a longtime US representative, while 37 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him. Thirty-eight percent had a favorable opinion of Gomez, a private equity investor and former US Navy SEAL, while 33 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him.

On Wednesday, President Obama is set to campaign for Markey in Boston. Obama bested Republican Mitt Romney 61 percent to 38 percent in Massachusetts last year. The Suffolk poll found the president remains well regarded in the state. Sixty percent of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of Obama, while only 35 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him.

The poll indicates, however, that the president’s popularity has diminished over the last month. In the May Suffolk University/7 News poll, 67 percent had a favorable opinion of the President.

Since then, a trio of controversies has taken center stage in Washington, D.C.

Republicans have hammered the White House over disclosures that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for greater scrutiny, that the Department of Justice obtained the communications records of a number of reporters during investigations of leaks of classified information, and about the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on a US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya.

Last month, Gomez ignited controversy when he called Markey “pond scum.” The new survey asked about the issue. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they do not believe the congressman is “pond scum.”

The Suffolk telephone poll surveyed 500 likely US Senate special election voters by landline and cellphone from June 6 through June 9.

The election is set for June 25.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.
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