Senator Ed Markey was only elected to the Senate last summer, but voters are already contemplating his replacement. More Massachusetts voters now think it is time to give someone else a chance (43 percent) than think Markey deserves re-election (30 percent), according to The MassINC Polling Group’s MassPulse quarterly poll. Twenty-seven percent did not offer an opinion. (Topline, crosstabs.)
In another potentially troubling sign, Senator Markey’s name recognition has actually slipped backward slightly since his election. Now, 34 percent view him favorably, and 24 percent view him unfavorably compared to July 2013, when these figures were 38 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable.
“Massachusetts voters haven’t developed a strong attachment to Senator Markey,” said Steve Koczela, President of The MassINC Polling Group. “His initial election was in a low wattage affair with historically low turnout, and many voters apparently haven’t connected with him since.”
Markey may also be suffering from a broad, national anti-incumbent sentiment. The public has long held a low opinion of Congress in general, but usually voters look more favorably on their own representatives. Last week, Gallup found that a record low percentage of registered voters nationally favor re-electing their own congressional representative. Still, the 46 percent who think their representative should be re-elected is higher than the 30 percent Markey received.
But if Markey is being affected by a national anti-incumbent mood, his colleague in the Senate, Elizabeth Warren, seems to be immune. Half (53 percent) of registered voters have a favorable opinion of Warren, compared to 29 percent unfavorable. These figures are very similar to her poll numbers from April 2013, indicating the durability of Warren’s favorability with voters.
Of course, Markey’s vulnerability is only hypothetical unless he draws a challenger. His previous opponent, Gabriel Gomez, has announced he is not seeking elected office this year. Were he to change his mind, he would have to reintroduce himself to the electorate, as 33 percent of registered voters now claim to have never heard of him.
Markey defeated Republican Gabriel Gomez in a June 2013 special election to fill John Kerry’s senate seat, a contest that drew record-low turnout. Because Kerry’s term ended in 2014, Markey must run for re-election this fall.
These findings were part of MPG’s quarterly poll. Additional results of the survey will be released later this week.