No sign of traction for Gomez

Comparisons to Scott Brown have been swirling around Gabriel Gomez ever since the Cohasset businessman and former Navy SEAL stormed past a pair of longtime Bay State Republican fixtures, and into a Senate showdown with Rep. Ed Markey.

The National Review argues that Gomez is within striking distance of Markey. Boston magazine’s David Bernstein believes if Gomez is going to live up to the hype and pull off a late Brown-like charge, he has to start now. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is calling on the state GOP to pull Brown off the sidelines and help Gomez close the deal by sprinkling the political neophyte with some of Brown’s old Wrentham magic.

But the reality is, Gomez has already shown he’s no Scott Brown. It’s too late for him to pull off the kind of surge Brown showed in January 2010. Brown had incredible amounts of money and momentum behind him at this point in his successful Senate race. And thus far, Gomez hasn’t shown he has either.

A new WBUR poll, conducted by the MassINC Polling Group, indicates Gomez is struggling to chip away at a modest but consistent lead held by Markey. The poll has Gomez trailing Markey by 7 points; a WBUR/MassINC poll last month had Gomez down by 8. The WBUR poll follows one by Suffolk University yesterday that showed Gomez down by 7 points. A pair of polls last week from UMass Amherst and New England College showed Markey up by double digits, but Gomez’s polling numbers haven’t improved much over the past month.

Gomez is also struggling with key constituencies. The WBUR/MassINC poll has him up by just 2 points among unenrolled voters, while a recent poll by Public Policy Polling actually had Markey winning independents by one point; those figures are miles away from the 21-point drubbing among independents that Brown put on Martha Coakley. The WBUR/MassINC poll also has Gomez losing support among women; he’s now down by 21 points among likely female voters.

Brown didn’t pull ahead of Coakley until the final two weeks of their chaotic wintertime race, but he was gathering serious momentum for weeks before that. For instance, Brown went from being down by 3 points among independents in late December to being up by more than 40 points with them in early January. He had clear, documentable momentum among the voters he needed to win over, even when he was still down in the polls overall. But if anything, Gomez is seeing his support among independents slip.

Brown captured independents by riding a national wave of discontent, by taking advantage of a lackadaisical Coakley campaign, and by going on the offensive on TV. He could afford to go big on TV because he had millions of dollars flooding into his campaign, from both inside and outside Massachusetts. Gomez, on the other hand, is being outspent on the air by nearly three-to-one; the vast majority of Markey’s ads have been sharply negative, and Gomez hasn’t been able to do anything to rebut them.

                                                                                                                                                                            –PAUL MCMORROW


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