Sanford Closing; Gomez Within Four

Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D)

Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D)

Tomorrow is Election Day in the SC-1 special and there are signals that former governor Mark Sanford (R) is rapidly closing against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Public Policy Polling is scheduled to release a final survey of the race later today. There was a local poll floating around last week that actually showed the race tied, but the data did not appear reliable so the results should be discarded.

But there is a sense that the trends are moving in Sanford’s direction. During the last week, senators Lindsey Graham (R) and Tim Scott (R) both endorsed the former governor and congressman, as did Gov. Nikki Haley (R). Normally, it is not particularly noteworthy when the party elected officials endorse a party nominee but, in this case with Sanford’s well-publicized problems and the National Republican Congressional Committee publicly disowning the race, the actions do show some positive momentum for the damaged candidate.

As always is the case with special elections, the turnout model will be key. A lower voter participation figure will likely favor the Democrat because the district is heavily Republican. Busch must still be considered the favorite, but the result may be closer than was predicted just a week ago.

Markey vs. Gomez in Massachusetts

Public Policy Polling released the first public survey of the Massachusetts special general election and it returned some surprising results. Fresh from his 57-43 percent victory over Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8), Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) should be cruising in the general election against a little-known Republican nominee. But, the PPP poll (May 1-2; 1,539 registered Massachusetts voters) only gives the newly crowned Democratic nominee a 44-40 percent lead over private equity investor and former Navy veteran Gabriel Gomez.

The poll is a quick brushfire, begun just a day after the primary election. It tests the favorability ratings of both candidates and then checks the reliability of the sample by asking the respondent who he supported in the 2012 presidential election.

Despite winning the nomination just the day before, Markey’s favorability index is not as strong as that of the upstart Gomez. According to the data, 44 percent of those polled reported having a positive impression of Rep. Markey, while 41 percent do not. Gomez, on the other hand, sports a 41:27 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio.

Those comprising the sample report voting 57-39 percent for President Obama over Republican nominee Mitt Romney, which is very close to the actual 60-37 percent Massachusetts margin. By a margin of 39-28 percent, the respondents consider themselves liberal or somewhat liberal as compared to conservative or somewhat conservative. Thirty-three percent of the individuals in the sampling universe self-identify as “moderate.”

It will be interesting to see what action the National Republican Senatorial Committee now takes in relation to this race. Featuring the type of candidate they hope to attract nationally — a young Hispanic with a strong military and business background — and now with independent polling data showing him within the margin of error, the GOP leaders are virtually forced to provide Gomez backing even if they think his eventual victory chances are not particularly strong.

It appears that Ed Markey’s projected cakewalk to the June 25 special general vote is at least starting in a different direction.

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