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Boston Bombings Change Massachusetts Senate Race

David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Since April 15, the residents of Massachusetts have been focused on the bombings that hit the state's signature sporting event -- the Boston Marathon -- leaving three dead and more than 260 injured.

However, even before the attacks, interest wasn't high in the special election to fill the Senate seat John Kerry vacated when he became secretary of state.  Voters will cast their ballots in both the Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday and turnout is expected to be low.

"Certainly, it has been overshadowed in the sense that the drama and the pain of the April 15 bombing made it look less important but, on the other hand, no one was paying attention to [the special election] before the bombing," Tufts political science professor Jeffrey Berry said.  "The race hasn't gained traction and this added to that.  There was always going to be a tiny turnout anyway."

All five of the candidates suspended campaigning for the week after the bombings and have had to figure out the delicate balance since they started up again, but Berry chalked up the lack of interest not just to the bombings, but to election fatigue for Bay State residents, as well.

He added that there's a different feel than there was when Scott Brown beat state Attorney General Martha Coakley for an open Senate seat in 2010.

"There isn't the sort of anger out there like the last special election where we were at the bottom of the recession that propelled Scott Brown into office," Berry said, adding that the third reason is a "dispirited" state Republican Party that lost both the 2012 Senate election, when then-Sen. Brown fell to Elizabeth Warren, and the 2010 gubernatorial election, won by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.

The electorate is largely undecided, according to polls, but the most recent survey done by Western New England University and taken between April 11 and 18 showed U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ahead of U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., 44 to 34 percent.

As for the Republicans, the poll showed businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez with 33 percent; former acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan with 27 percent; and state legislator and Mitt Romney's former senior legal counsel Dan Winslow with 9 percent.

Whoever wins on Tuesday will face off in the general election on June 25.

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