BOSTON PRIMARY DAY : TURNOUT ?

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^ In case you hadn’t noticed ….
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The polls for Boston’s big Mayor Primary open in about twenty hours.

So who will vote tomorrow ? Most likely, those who have voted in the past City elections. Voting patterns change remarkably slowly. Universal suffrage really IS the conservative political factor that its first advocates, back in the 1870s — Otto von Bismarck of Germany and the UK’s Benjamin Disraeli — expected it would be.

Yet Boston has changed significantly since the last open Mayor election in 1993. “New Boston” has expanded beyond all expectation back then, bringing in thousands of young technology-oriented people — and those who operate or staff businesses catering to them. Wards 3, 4, 5, and 9 look nothing like what they did 20 years ago. Even Ward 11 looks different, and Wards 2 and 6 are changing quickly, albeit only recently.

Still, a citizen’s likelihood of registering to vote, and actually voting, in a Mayor election varies almost directly with two factors : ( 1 ) length of permannent residence in the City and ( 2 ) a feeling of connectedness to City government. In most elections, the income level of a person is also a factor. Not so in Boston City elections. Lower income people in “connected” neighborhoods are quite more likely to vote in a Mayor race than even high-income people in less “connected” neighborhoods.

The City’s most “connected” neighborhoods are Charlestown, South Boston, Ward 16 of Dorchester, and West Roxbury/Roslindale. Together, their population totals about 120,000 — one sixth of the whole City. Now look at some facts :

1. In the 2011 City Council-only FINAL, Charlestown (2309 votes) almost out voted East Boston (2334), a neighborhood two and a half times a populous.

2. In that election, Ward 20 (West Roxbury/Roslindale) outvoted (7166) Ward 18 (6623) substantially — even though Ward 16 is 50 % more populous than Ward 20.

3.In that same election, the “connected” neighborhoods that total one-sixth of the City’s people provided FORTY percent of the total votes cast.

3.In the last Mayor election PRIMARY, in 2009, an electorate not much different from tomorrow’s voted thus :

Total turnout — 81,766. Charlestown total : 2788. South Boston total : 7689 Ward 16 total : 4927
Ward 20 Total 9402.

Ward 20, with 9407 votes cast, almost outvoted 50 percent larger Ward 18 (9880). With 6.5 % of Boston’s people it cast 11.5 % of the City’s vote.

South Boston, with about 5 % of Boston people, cast 9 % of the total vote. Charlestown, comprising about 2 % of Boston people, cast 3.5 % of the total vote. Meanwhile, Ward 21, with 5 % of Boston people, cast 3.5 % of its vote, and Ward 15, home to about 4 % of Bostonians, cast 2.4 % of the vote. Most striking : high-income ward 5, home to almost 6 % of Boston folks, cast less than 4 % of the vote.

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^ 119,000 pairs of legs will walk or wheel-chair into Boston’s 254 voting precincts. We predict it.

Turnout in this Mayor Primary will surely go much higher than 2009’s 81,766. Three Council Districts (4th, 5th, and 8th) have District Council race primaries too. My prediction is that 119,000 voters will cast ballots. Want to see how I get my numbers ? Here they are (and percent of total) :

Ward 1 (East Boston) — 6200 ( 5.1 %) — intense battle between walsh, Consalvo, Connolly, Arroyo
Ward 2 (Charlestown) — 5100 (4.3 %) — big increase, for home boy Jack Kelly’s Council race
Ward 3 (North End & Downtown) — 6500 (5.5 %) — many new residents —
Ward 4 South End — 4500 (3.8 %)
Ward 5 (Baack Bay, Beacon Hill) — 6500 (5.5 %) — big Council race; Mike Ross’s home district —
Wards 6 & 7 (South Boston & Seaport) —- 12,000 (10.1 %)
Wards 8 & 9 (Lower Roxbury & South End) — 6000 (5.05 %)
Wards 10 & 11 (Mission Hill, Hyde Square, Eastern J.P.) —- 8000 (7.075 %)
Ward 12 (upper Roxbury) — 5000 (4.2 %) — big for Golar Richie —
Ward 13 (Uphams Corner, Savin Hill) —- 5500 (4.7 %) — big increase in Walsh’s home area —
Ward 14 (Blue Hill Avenue) —- 6500 (5.5 %) — see remarks on ward 12 —-
Ward 15 (Bowdoin/Geneva) — 3300 (2.8 %)
Ward 16 (South Dorchester — 8100 (7.1 %) — see ward 13 remarks —
Ward 17 (Codman square, Lower Mills) — 6000 (5.05 %) — Walczak brings out the vote —
Ward 18 (Mattapan, Hyde Park) —- 15,000 (12.8 %) — Consalvo and Conley compete —
Ward 19 (Jamaica Plain, Rossie Square) — 8000 (7.075 %)
Ward 20 (West Roxbury/Roslindale) — 14,500 (12.2 %) — Connolly’s home Ward —
Ward 21 (Allston, Comm Avenue) — 4000 (3.3 %)
Ward 22 (Brighton, North Allston) — 5000 (4.7 %)

So yes :  “new Boston” will up its grammar. To maybe 45 % of the total. But not anywhere near enough to render “traditional” Boston a past participle.

Wednesday morning we will know if this is the IT or just a will o’ the wisp.

—- Mkichael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

THE IRAN THING : HASSAN ROUHANI COMES TO THE UN

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^ Hassan Rouani : a new day in Iran, a new start for Iran – American relations

For those of Boston these days, what’s going on in the rest of the world, beyond our borders, has had little meaning. Yes, Cambridge, with its universities across the Charles River, and their technology geniuses, has been talked much of. The city of Everett, too, for its embrace of Steve Wynn’s proposed billion-dollar casino. At Mayoral Forums, candidates have occasionally cited Montreal or Detroit (Marty Walsh), San Diego (Dan Conley), and New Orleans (Charles Yancey), as models for future Boston or for the challenges. New York City often draws comment. But that’s about it.

One almost shies from mentioning, into such an interior monologue, the name “Iran.” Yet Iran is coming to us — its newly elected President, Hassan Rouhani, to the UN, and soon, along with new Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif; where, it is whispered, the two men might actually meet with President Obama. 

That would be news indeed. No Iranian President has met an American President since the 1979 overthrow of the last Shah. It hasn’t been even a possibility, nor has it been thought desirable. now it is not just possible but probable. And well worth happening.

President Obama has often been demeaned by his political enemies here in the US as an ineffective leader. This is a false flag. The President, and his new Secretary of state John Kerry, have made major moves these past few months, and they have moved the chess pieces in a positive direction. First came the restart of Israel-Palestinian peace talks. then came the Syria chemical weapons disposal real — begun by accident maybe but well finished by full intention. Now comes a possible agreement with iran, the palpable result of a tough economic sanctions policy held to by our President.

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^ President Obama : thumbs up for good foreign policy moves this season

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^ Secr/State John Kerry ; flexibility and good sense

Reaching any kind of agreement with Iran will likely prove tougher than them all. Hassan Rouhani may represent the reformists in Iran, but their reforms are all domestic to Iran; on the question of achieving nuclear weaponry, the reformists seem as resolute as the hard-liners. Still, the rhetoric has changed entirely. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cursed and insulted Israel every day for breakfast. Rouhani tweeted Rosh Hashana greetings to Jews all over the world. Clearly Rouhani wants to at least talk to the “evil” West. That is good news for sure; but talk is sometimes more dangerous than enmity. When rivals talk, they begin, willy nilly, to respect each other, even to like one another. That makes disagreement harder. And we and Iran will surely disagree. 

What, then, will Rouhani, Zafir, Kerry and Obama talk about ? Iran’s nuclear weapons project of course. Probably they will only agree to commence formal discussions on the topic. These have been held before and failed. Rouhani remembers that well, because he was then Iran’s discusser; and its failure hurt his political career. Now he’s back, with the full confidence of the big man, “Supreme leader” Ali Khamenei. Rouhani will not want to fail again to reach some agreement. He has given Zarif full power to be Iran’s negotiator. Zarif is an unusual Iranian. He was educated in America and has lived more than half his life here.

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^ Foreign Minister Mohammed Zafir : as American as any iranian in their regime

Perhaps Obama and Rouhani will agree only to talks. That go nowhere. Still, the two men will have met each other. that cannot be undone. A new era in Iran – American diplomacy will have begun. It will have its own momentum. Israel and Russia will be watching closely. So will Bashir Assad. He might just be the trading piece. That would indeed be good news.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere