Suffolk explains what a bellwether is and it's significance to the Senate race:With voters heading to the polls on Tuesday to choose their party’s nominee for U.S. Senate, a Suffolk University poll of bellwether districts finds Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey with a huge advantage over U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch. The Republican primary remains too close to call with private equity investor Gabriel Gomez and former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan competing for the top spot and State Rep. Daniel Winslow a distant third.
In the Democratic race, the Suffolk University Political Research Center polled 300 voters each in Newburyport, Sandwich and Swampscott, three areas where the vote totals in the 2009 Democratic special election closely paralleled the statewide vote totals. In all three areas, Markey had huge leads, from 18 points in Swampscott to 35 points in Sandwich.
David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston said in a statement that while voter turnout will determine the outcome, “Given what we know now, Lynch would have to carry his home district by an unprecedented margin and also compete aggressively in Markey’s home district to offset Markey’s distinct advantage.” - The Republican, 4/29/13
Polling has consistently showed Markey in the lead which is all great news of course but turnout will be key to securing Markey's victory. I again refer to The Atlantic's post about why voter turnout will be important for Markey if he wants to beat Lynch:A bellwether is an area of a state that closely mirrors a statewide electoral outcome based on similar election types, previous elections and other data. Suffolk University’s bellwether model has been used since 2002 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. - Suffolk University, 4/28/13
So voter turnout is key to securing the nominee for Markey. By the way, received an e-mail today from the Markey campaign and they could use our help with resources for tomorrow's GOTV efforts:The expectations seem to spring from a national assumption that, in Massachusetts, the most liberal candidate always wins. To believe that is to misunderstand the state. Massachusetts is not monolithically liberal; it has regional idiosyncrasies, like anywhere else, along with a surprisingly strong independent streak. In other words, it has plenty of voters who might be inclined to support a Stephen Lynch. Indeed, a closer look at the political landscape suggests Lynch has better odds on Tuesday than you might think. (Disclosure: I previously worked for Cence Cincotti Strategies, which is now advising the Lynch campaign.)
Look no further than the state's voter-registration statistics to debunk the myth that Bay Staters are in lockstep with the Democratic establishment. While Republicans remain even scarcer (11 percent), Democrats constitute only 36 percent of registered voters. A majority of voters in Massachusetts (53 percent) are unaffiliated with either party -- and the state's open-primary system means they too can vote on Tuesday. That's a plus for Lynch, as a recent poll found him leading 41 percent to 35 percent among unaffiliated voters planning to pull a Democratic ballot.
The Lynch campaign is optimistic its candidate resonates enough with independents to get them to the polls. "Unenrolled voters in Massachusetts are more likely to vote in Democratic primaries than in Republican primaries," says a spokesman. "You've just got to give them a reason to vote. Our guy has done that repeatedly."
In Massachusetts, those reasons for voting can be very different depending on whom you ask--even among voters of the same party. In fact, Massachusetts may have starker differences among Democratic voters -- on policy preferences, personal motivations, and socioeconomic status -- than anywhere else. A tour of the state reveals how many factions the state's Democratic coalition truly comprises.
Stereotypical progressives are certainly a big part of Massachusetts. They include GLBT activists in Provincetown on Cape Cod, young idealists in Cambridge and Boston, artists in the bohemian Berkshires, and intellectuals in the college towns of Amherst and Northampton in the Pioneer Valley. This progressive voting bloc bleeds into the more pragmatic vote of Boston's western suburbs and the North Shore. Wellesley (professors) and Newburyport (art gallerists), for instance, house intellectuals who double as affluent Yankees, a demographic that better describes these areas on the whole. These are the socially liberal, fiscally conservative voters who were key to moderate Republicans' sometime success in Massachusetts but now often pull the lever for Democrats.
But equally significant elements of the state's Democratic coalition are socially conservative, fiscally liberal voters -- like Stephen Lynch. These populists tend to be the working-class residents of Massachusetts's many secondary urban areas, such as Worcester, Springfield, Brockton, and Lynn. They are also the state's most diverse bloc of voters, encompassing Hispanic communities in Lawrence, Chelsea, and Holyoke and Asian enclaves in Quincy and Lowell. But they also include less recent immigrants like the Irish of South Boston, the Italians of Everett, and the Portuguese of Fall River and New Bedford. The one thing these voters have in common? They are predominantly Roman Catholic. Overall, Massachusetts is the most Catholic state in the country (45 percent of the population).
To see how the socially conservative wing of the party can tilt elections in Massachusetts, we don't need to look far back. In November, Question 2 on the Massachusetts ballot asked voters if physician-assisted suicide should be legalized in the state. In arguably the most liberal state in the country, it seemed like a safe bet for passage -- until the controversial measure, vigorously opposed by the local Catholic archdiocese, lost on Election Night, 51 percent to 49 percent.
Ironically, the cities that voted most lopsidedly against physician-assisted suicide were not Republican bastions -- they were some of the cities that voted most lopsidedly for Democratic candidates. Question 2 received less than 42 percent in 29 Massachusetts cities and towns -- but 28 of those 29 also voted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney, proving their Democratic bona fides. In eight of the 11 most anti-euthanasia communities, Obama even cleared 70 percent. The point is really driven home when you look at the full results in the blue-collar communities we're concerned with:From this, it's evident both that social conservatism dominates many urban centers in Massachusetts and that those cities are nevertheless loyally Democratic. That could be a recipe for success for Lynch in these areas. From the list, he even appears to have a shot at winning his hometown of Boston -- often thought by outsiders to be a city of educated liberals, but containing an enormous working-class population as well.
Across the state, Lynch can win if he can turn out this populist bloc better than Markey can turn out progressives. Markey is thought to have the edge in the field thanks to a substantial fundraising lead, but Lynch has an easier logistical task ahead of him. His votes are clustered in these dense cities, while the Markey campaign must get out the vote in the sprawling Boston suburbs and the vast Berkshires; Markey will need every bit of his monetary advantage for how thin those resources will be spread. Plus Lynch may get additional tailwinds from a special state senate election the same day--in the Boston district he once represented. That means there will be twice as many people squeezing votes out of South Boston and Dorchester as usual--a boon for their native son.
Lynch can also count on the efforts of union members, such as firefighters and nurses, who are well practiced turning out the vote in urban areas. In a low-turnout environment (in the 2009 special Senate election, only 668,926 of a potential 3.7 million or so voted in the Democratic primary; that's 18% turnout), small niches of dedicated, loyal supporters can make a big difference. - The Atlantic, 4/26/13
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