Democrat Edward Markey (52 percent) holds a comfortable lead over Republican Gabriel Gomez (42 percent) with just a day to go before the special election for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, according to a Suffolk University statewide poll of tightly screened likely voters.

Richard Heos of the Twelve Visions Party polls at 1 percent; 4 percent are undecided; and 1 percent refused a response.

“These numbers suggest that tomorrow night Ed Markey will make the transformation from congressman to senator-elect,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “All eyes will be watching to see how Markey’s final vote tally stacks up against Elizabeth Warren’s eight-point win over Scott Brown last November.”

The bellwether areas of Lowell, Dartmouth and South Hadley all point to a big win for Markey as well. In Lowell, Markey leads 49 percent to 38 percent; in Dartmouth his lead is 52 percent to 37 percent; and in South Hadley the lead is 51 percent to 37 percent.

These communities -- Lowell, Dartmouth and South Hadley -- correctly predicted the statewide winner in the January 2010 special Senate election, and each was within 1 percentage point of the statewide vote cast for Scott Brown, Martha Coakley, and Joseph L. Kennedy, as follows:

  • Statewide: Brown 52 percent, Coakley 47 percent, Kennedy 1 percent
  • Lowell: Brown 52 percent, Coakley 47 percent, Kennedy 1 percent
  • Dartmouth: Brown 53 percent, Coakley 46 percent, Kennedy 1 percent
  • South Hadley: Brown 51 percent, Coakley 48 percent, Kennedy 1 percent

Bellwethers

A bellwether is an area of a state where the vote is expected to closely mirror a statewide electoral outcome based on similar election types, previous elections and other data. Suffolk University’s bellwether model has been used since 2002 in polling across the country and is 83 percent accurate in predicting outcomes. However, it is not designed to predict margin of victory. All bellwether analyses carry a margin of error similar to a statewide poll. In past occurrences where three bellwethers were selected and all three identified the same winner, the bellwether model has been 100 percent accurate in predicting the outright winner.

President’s approval ratings

President Barack Obama’s favorability ratings have shown a steady decrease from 67 percent favorable-29 percent unfavorable in May, to 60 percent favorable-35 percent unfavorable in early June to 53 percent favorable-43 percent unfavorable today.

His job performance numbers have fallen from 63 percent approve-32 percent disapprove in May to 57 percent approve-37 percent disapprove in early June to 47 percent approve-43 percent disapprove today.

Fifty-five percent of voters say they do not trust the federal government to protect individual privacy, while 31 percent say that they do. However, 58 percent of likely voters say people should have to give up some privacy to be safe from terrorist attacks, while 31 percent disagree.

Likely voters are split on the president’s decision to send weapons and ammunition aid to Syrian rebels: 42 percent agree with the president’s decision to intervene, while 45 percent disagree.

Welfare Reform and Marijuana Laws

Eighty-two percent of likely voters approve of a Massachusetts Senate bill that would require welfare recipients to prove they have sought out or applied for a job before receiving state benefits, while 11 percent disapprove. The measure is now in the House.

Sixty-seven percent of voters say that government’s efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth, while 17 percent disagree.

Methodology

The statewide Suffolk University survey used a split sample of landline and cell phone numbers and a tight screen to filter out voters who weren't certain to vote or who couldn't name when the special general election would be held. The field of 500 likely voters was conducted Wednesday, June 19, through Saturday, June 22. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.

The bellwether survey used voter lists from each community with the same tight screen as the statewide poll. It was fielded Friday, June 21, through Sunday, June 23. The margin of error is +/- 5.65 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence for each area. Bellwethers are designed to predict outcomes, not margins. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.