US Representative Edward J. Markey heads into the general election with a significant advantage over Republican nominee Gabriel E. Gomez in their Senate race, according to a poll released Wednesday that shows the Malden Democrat with a 17-point lead.
Markey pulled 52 percent support to Gomez's 35 percent in the Suffolk University/7News survey of 500 likely voters who showed some knowledge that the election is scheduled for June 25. The poll, which Suffolk said had an error margin of plus-or-minus 4.4 percent, was conducted May 4-7.
Republicans are hoping that Gomez can resurrect the fleeting phenomenon that facilitated former Senator Scott Brown's 2010 surprising victory over Attorney General Martha Coakley, a fresh GOP face toppling a heavily favored Democrat. Brown also trailed significantly in public polling immediately after the December 2009 primary.
Democrats, though, are committed to not repeating past mistakes and fumble away the seat held by current Secretary of State John F. Kerry, as they did with the late Edward M. Kennedy's Senate office.
"I'm not saying the race won't be close or it won't get closer, or that Markey or somebody won't gaffe," said David Paleologos, the Suffolk pollster who conducted the survey. "But in terms of the starting point, this isn't a handful-of-points race."
The poll shows Markey buoyed by President Obama's enduring popularity and popular support for a campaign finance pledge that he has urged Gomez to sign. Obama carries a 67 percent favorability rating in the survey, and 63 percent of respondents approve of his job performance.
"The coattail effect will be beneficial to Markey, and that's a problem for Gomez," Paleologos said.
Asked about the so-called People's Pledge, designed to discourage outside groups from attempting to influence the election through advertising, 71 percent of respondents called it somewhat or very important, 16 percent considered it of little or no importance, and 12 percent were unfamiliar with the proposal.
Markey himself enjoys a 53 percent favorability rating, with 30 percent viewing him unfavorably. Gomez carried a 38 percent favorability tally and 23 percent unfavorability. Fully 32 percent said they had heard of him but had not made up their minds.
The poll also asked voters about Brown, who remains popular in the state, with a 52 percent/40 percent split.