US Representative Edward J. Markey holds a wide lead over his Democratic rival for the US Senate, fellow Representative Stephen F. Lynch, and would easily beat all three Republican candidates in a head-to-head matchup, according to a new poll.
Markey leads Lynch by 29.5 percentage points among potential Democratic primary voters, 50 percent to 20.5 percent, with 23 percent undecided about their preference in the April 30 primary, according to the UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll released Wednesday night.
Markey, of Malden, would also beat the Republicans candidates by double-digit margins, although the poll found that the vast majority of voters do not know who those candidates are, suggesting those candidates have room to grow if they can broaden their profiles.
“Markey’s lead, while it is substantial against both Stephen Lynch and the three Republican candidates, is built on a great deal of soft support,” Joshua Dyck, codirector of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion, said in a statement. “In a limited time frame and with competitive primaries on both sides, there are considerable obstacles for candidates to overcome. However, there is still great potential for this race to shift as the campaign heats up.”
The survey of 600 registered voters was conducted between March 2 and March 5, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The poll indicated that, if the June 25 general election were held today, Markey would defeat state Representative Daniel B. Winslow by 23 percentage points, former Navy SEAL Gabriel E. Gomez by 19.5 percentage points, and former US attorney Michael J. Sullivan by 17 points. The survey did not measure how the Republicans would fare against one another in the GOP primary on April 30.
The poll found most voters have yet to form an opinion of Markey, offering a chance for Lynch and the Republicans to dent his public image and shake up the race in its earliest stages. Despite Markey’s 36 years in Congress, about 31 percent of those surveyed said they had no opinion of the Malden Democrat, while nearly 19 percent said they had never even heard of him.
Even among registered voters who said they follow Massachusetts politics closely, about 32 percent said they had no opinion of Markey and 17 percent said they had never heard of him.
Lynch and the Republicans are even less well known.
About 42 percent of those surveyed said they had no opinion of Lynch and 19 percent said they had never heard of him. About 79 percent of voters had no opinion of or had never heard of Sullivan, who has served as a state lawmaker, Plymouth County district attorney, and federal prosecutor.
About 79 percent said they had never heard of Gomez, a Cohasset investor, while 70 percent said the same about Winslow, who has served as a chief legal counsel to Governor Mitt Romney and as a district court judge.
The survey also found that if former Senator Scott Brown were to run for governor in 2014, he would hold an early advantage. About 33 percent of voters surveyed said they would be very likely to vote for Brown while 26 percent said they were somewhat likely to do so. Brown is also better known than some of the other potential candidates, including Charles D. Baker, the 2010 Republican nominee, and state Treasurer Steven Grossman, a Democrat who is considering a run.Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.