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Mass. voters head to the polls

BOSTON -- If the polls are to be believed, longtime Democratic Congressman Ed Markey is poised to capture the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now Secretary of State John Kerry in Tuesday’s special election. Despite the efforts of political newcomer and former Navy SEAL Republican Gabriel Gomez, even some Gomez supporters doubt he will pull it off in the end.

Gomez “is not going to win, I know. I've lived in Massachusetts for 12 years. I know he is not going to win, but I wanted to say that I tried,” Gomez supporter Maria Cullen said before heading in to vote in downtown Boston. "We need change."

It was only about two years ago, however, that a Republican was able to win a U.S. Senate. Scott Brown won the special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy who served there for nearly 47 years. Brown lost election to a full term in 2012 to Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

A Suffolk University poll released Monday put Markey ahead of Gomez by a 10-point margin.

Despite a fairly comfortable poll margin for Markey, Democrats were taking nothing for granted. President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden have all made appearances in Massachusetts to boost Markey.

Markey told NBC News in an interview Monday that polls numbers tell him nothing.

“It says work even harder," Markey said. "Don't trust polls. Don't even believe it for a second. You have to go out. You have to do the work. If you don’t get the vote out, then you don’t get to win."

Gomez remained optimistic going into Tuesday’s election.

“I don’t think they [polls] say anything," Gomez told NBC News. "It is just like anything, look, I’ve had a lot-- I’ve gone through a lot of hard things in life. You know, landing planes on aircrafts, going through Navy SEAL training and also if a Navy SEAL can talk a Peace Corps volunteer into marrying him, I think those odds were a lot higher against me than going in there against Congressman Markey tomorrow."

Polls opened Tuesday at 7 a.m. ET and close at 8 p.m. ET. Voter turnout is not expected to be high -- especially with a heat wave hitting the area -- but that did not deter some Bostonians from exercising their rights.

“It is our responsibility as citizens of this country to do so," said Roy Teague, who had just voted for Markey. "People have fought and died so that we could have the right to do this. Particularly as an African American, I find it indispensable for me not to do it. We must vote."

For some, like Jon Patsavos, a former Kerry aide, it is bittersweet casting a vote for a new senator.

“I use to work for Senator Kerry so it’s a special day for me voting for someone to replace my old boss." Patsavos said outside of the Boston Public Library. "Ed is great with climate control and small business and energy, and I think he'd be a great advocate in the U.S. Senate. I think he will represent this state just as well if not better than Secretary Kerry did.”

Both Markey and Gomez have said it would be an “honor” to fill Kerry’s seat.

“He encouraged me to run for his seat," Markey said Monday at a campaign stop in Lawrence, Mass, "and it would be a great honor for me to serve with John Kerry and Ted Kennedy who served our state so long and so well."