A new poll on the Massachusetts special election for U.S. Senate shows Democrat Ed Markey with a 12-point lead over Republican Gabriel Gomez, with 49 percent supporting Markey and 37 percent supporting Gomez.

The poll, conducted by Harper Polling, a Republican-affiliated firm, on behalf of Conservative Intelligence Briefing, surveyed 498 registered voters in Massachusetts and found that while an overwhelming number of Democrats and Republicans support their party's candidate, independent voters are split at 41 percent on Markey and Gomez.

Harper Polling's Brock McLeary points out a few findings in the poll that show how Gomez, a first-time candidate, can close the wide gap:

Simply put, Gomez trails because there are more Democrats than Republicans in the state. In the next two weeks, the challenge for Gomez is to open up a sizable lead among independents. There are indications that this is possible, but this survey indicates that the race is currently tied among independents.

First, the bad. A Gomez appeal to independents should be tilted toward women. He trails Markey among women by 26% (55-29%) and is tied among men (44-44%).

Markey is getting 77% of the vote among self-identified Liberals and Gomez gets 71% of Conservatives. Among Moderates, who are 48% of the sample, Markey leads 53-39%.

Now, the good. At +22%, Gomez has a far better image among independents than Markey (42% favorable, 42% unfavorable). Translating that to the ballot is the challenge for Gomez. He must conquer the reflexive instinct of independent voters in Massachusetts to vote for the Democrat even if they have doubts about him.

According to Real Clear Politics, Markey has a 9-point advantage in the polls, on average, over Gomez. The election is June 25.

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