Democrat Martha Coakley, Republican Scott Brown, and Libertarian Joe Kennedy (no primary opponent) now face off in a general election in January.
I knew it was going to be a tough evening for the male candidates in the Democratic primary when I went into my Cambridge polling station around noon on Tuesday. I passed four women coming out arm-in-arm who looked to be around Martha’s age in their mid to late fifties. Once in the voting booth, I could hear two female poll workers talking openly about how badly they wanted Martha to win.
But now that there has been time to study the results in a more detail, there is a little more to the story than that:
|Candidate||Statewide||Greater Boston||Old Industrial Cities||Western Boston Suburbs||Rest of State|
|% of primary voters||100%||20%||10%||3%||66%|
In Greater Boston, the race was quite tight. Mike Capuano eked out a 769 vote win over Martha Coakley. Alan Khazei did better than he did statewide, and Steve Pagliuca did worse. For Greater Boston, I am counting Boston, Chelsea, Somerville, Cambridge, Brookline, Newton, Watertown, Belmont, and Arlington.
Steve Pagliuca did best in the old industrial cities like Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, Brockton, New Bedford, Fall River, Lynn, Lawrence, Haverhill, Revere, Taunton, Attleboro, Fitchburg, and Leominster. These places are where Barack Obama fell big to Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential primary.
Alan Khazei beat out Mike Capuano to finish second in the western Boston suburbs of Weston, Wayland, Lincoln, Concord, Wellesley, Needham, Dover, Sherbourn, Boxorough, and Harvard. Alan finished second in a number of other towns around the state.
Turnout for the special election primary was very low, lower than other contested Democratic primaries in recent and not so recent memory:
|1,258,923||2008 Democratic Primary for President|
|910,877||2006 Democratic Primary for Governor|
|823,749||2006 Democratic Primary for Lieutenant Governor|
|789,822||1984 Democratic Primary for Senate|
|746,190||2002 Democratic Primary for Governor|
|664,795||2009 Democratic Primary for Senate|
This is the problem with single party politics in Massachusetts. In a state of roughly 4.5 million people, we will likely have the next Senator picked by the votes of the 310,827 citizens who voted for Martha Coakley. Good for them, good for her, and congratulations. But, measured against any ideal of democracy, I don’t see how this is good for us no matter who you support.
Yes, Massachusetts' voters have elected some Republican Governors in the last two decades, so they don't always rubber stamp the Democratic primary results. But the Republican primary vote is even smaller than the Democrats, only 162, 706 voters in the 2009 Republican primary for Senate.