BOSTON MAYOR FINAL : WHAT THE TWO NEED TO DO, AND WHY

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^ John Connolly — Marty Walsh : two irish names but men who could hardly be more different

—- — —-

Who will win on November 5th and become Boston’s next mayor ? The punditry has already begun. Most of what we’ve read talks about “communities color” and how on Tuesday Boston voted once again for two Irish white guys who now need to find a way to win said communities’ votes. True; but very simplistic. There are a lot more votes that Walsh or Connolly need to win. 64 % of those who voted on Tuesday voted for somebody else. Many November voters did not vote at all. Probably as much as 80 % of those who will vote on November 5th did not vote for the two white irish guys.

What must Walsh and Connolly do about it ? And how do I assess the obstacles they face ? Here goes:

1.Marty Walsh on Tuesday was pretty much a locally dominant winner; John Connolly on Tuesday was fairly much a broadly based vote-getter. Walsh’s vote was passionate, Connolly’s cool. Cool votes count as much as hot ones.

Despite his first place finish, Walsh’s challenge is immense. Though he swept cleanly the precincts of his seaside base — from South Boston to Savin Hill to Florian hall — he turned out 45 % to as much as 71 % of the voters in those precincts, by dint of a vast field organization of door knockers. That card is now played. He can increase his base vote by some, but not by a lot. Yes, he won as much as 77 % of the vote in his “base.” But 77 % of 80% of all voters in his base, say, isn’t that much more than 77 % of 71%.

As for outside his base, Walsh barely registered in some very key places. Take a look :

( a ) Ward 5 (Back bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway ) ——— Walsh 224 Connolly 1426
South End & Downtown (Ward 3 Pcts 6,7,8
and ward 4 Pcts 1-6, Wd 8 Pcts 1-3, ward 9 Pcts 1-2)………………………………………………………                               Walsh 545 Connolly 1909

TOTAL DOWNTOWN AREA ………….          Walsh 769 Connolly 3335

In the Primary, these precincts turned out an average of about 22 % to 25 % of their registered vote. In November these precincts always turn out in much bigger numbers. Even an increase from 25 % to just 40% — there will likely be more — would raise Connolly’s advantage over Walsh from 2564 votes to over 4000 votes. at 50% turnout the margin would increase to 5128 votes.

( b ) Ward 20 (West Roxbury and much of Roslindale)
………………………………………………………………… Walsh 1763 Connolly 4074

This doesn’t on the face of it look so bad for Walsh in Connolly’s home neighborhood. But looks deceive. Connolly faced a strong other candidate, Dan Conley, living in Ward 20 too and taking about 2500 votes (I am estimating, the City of Boston Ward and Precinct unofficial results for some reason leave Conley out). In addition, Ward 20 turned out 49% of its huge number of voters. In November, Ward 20 can turn out at least 70% — 17,000 to 18,000 voters — and Dan Conley will not be on the ballot. At 17,000 votes, a Walsh 3500 Connolly 13,500 result is entirely feasible. Even a more likely Walsh 5000 Connolly 12,000 result would give Connolly a larger margin than the entire vote turnout in Walsh’s home Ward 16.

Add a conservative Connolly margin of 5000 in the downtown areas, and he now has a bigger margin — 12,000 — over Walsh than the likely entire turnout from Wards 16 and 7, Walsh’s two strongest Wards.

( c ) East Boston, Brighton, Ward 19 (Centre Street, Jamaica Plain; plus a small part of Roslindale)

Even with the support of State Rep. Liz Malia, Walsh fared not so hot in Jamaica Plain. In East Boston, Connolly had the endorsement of State Rep. Carlo Basile. Basile delivered. In Brighton, to which neither he nor Connolly had any local claim, Connolly was the clear winner :

Ward 1 ………………………………………………….. Walsh 762 Connolly 1214

Curiously, in this once banner “Italian” Ward, Rob Consalvo did not dominate Tuesday. His vote total barely matched Connolly’s. Turnout, too, was shockingly small : about 28 % . In November, all this will change. Historically, East Boston has consciously “delivered” the bigger part of 6000 to 7000 votes to a preferred, usually Irish, contender. It was famously so in 1959, when Ward 1’s vote made the difference in John Collins’s upset win over the much favored John E. Powers. In 2013 it is unlikely that Ward 1’s top politicals can “deliver” the Ward to anybody; yet with a much higher turnout — that much the ward’s politicals can do — and Rob Consalvo out, plus a clear preference for Connolly, as it stands today he will carry “Eastie” by about 1400 votes : say 4200 to 2800.

Ward 21 …………………………………………………………. Walsh 362 Connolly 631
Ward 22 …………………………………………………………. Walsh 818 Connolly 832
TOTAL ………………………………………………………………..      . 1180                  1463

Brighton’s turnout was tiny. In Primaries it always is. In November, the turnout might double and still be small. Connolly’s advantage isn’t much, but it is an advantage and takes away from Walsh a possible chance to cut Connolly’s huge vote margins in the Wards I have already assessed.

Ward 19 ………………………………………………………. Walsh 542 Connolly 1007

Many Ward 19 votes went to other candidates on Tuesday. Still, unless they break decisively to Walsh, and adding a modestly higher turnout — to maybe 55 % — than Tuesday’s estimable 42 %, Connolly still stands to win the Ward by a good 1500 votes. Not a lot, but at this point Connolly doesn’t need a lot more.

All of the above leaves it — with one exception; see below — up to Boston’s “communities of color,” concentrated in Wards 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, part of 13 and 15, 17, and much of 18. It’s a lot of the City’s voters, maybe 25 % — greater, taken together, than Ward 20. On Tuesday, Walsh and Connolly won almost an equal share of what little vote in these communities did not go to Charlotte Golar Richie, John Barros, and Felix Arroyo. If on November 5th communities color divide their vote equally, Connolly almost certainly wins. What are the chances that Walsh can turn a palpable majority of voters of color in his direction ? As of today, I cannot tell. My friends think that a decision here will not be made until after one or two of the upcoming three debates. I think they are right.

But let us say that even after the debates, Boston’s voters of color poll equally for Walsh and Connolly. Does Walsh still have a chance ? Yes he does.

I’ve left one big region out of the discussion : the part of Ward 18 that Mayor Menino lives in. it is said that Menino cannot stand John Connolly, and Connolly’s loss to Walsh in Hyde Park and Readville bears out what is said :

Ward 18 Pcts 9, 10, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23)
————————————————————————– Walsh 647 Connolly 542

In Menino’s home precinct (20), Walsh beat Connolly 97 to 34. Of course the overwhelming majority of votes in the precinct went to local hero Rob Consalvo. He won about 2500 votes in the whole region. It is assumed, probably correctly, that Consalvo will support Marty Walsh. If I assign Consalvo’s 2500 local votes three to one to Walsh, and increase the turnout from 45 % to 60 %, Walsh wins Menino’s home area by about 1800 votes.

With this 1800 vote victory, a 10 point margin among communities of color, some increase of vote in his home area (South Boston especially), and a strong debate showing leading to a decent majority among voters who did not vote at all on Tuesday, Marty Walsh can win the day. But it will not be easy.

Marty is respected by all who know him, has a civil rights record second to no one, and has the utter loyalty of labor (other than the Teachers Union). He needs to run an almost perfect campaign. He needs to tell us about his 16-year record at the state House. He needs to show that he speaks the language of business, and its plans, as authoritatively as he talks that of labor.

Walsh needs badly to expand his reach at least into areas where he wasn’t blown out : Tom Menino’s half of Ward 18; Jamaica Plain; Brighton (Ward 22); the North End; and Ward 10 (Mission Hill precincts). He would be well advised to borrow from Dan Conley’s excellent, neighborhood-oriented recommendations list of administrative reforms. He needs to get Felix Arroyo and Rob Consalvo aboard.

John Connolly’s strategy should be “steady as you go.” Continue to do exactly what he has been doing, but also present a convincing plan for administrative reform — Dan Conley’s neighborhood by neighborhood list, but also reform of the Police and Fire Departments. Connolly needs to get some sleep before the debates and come out passionate and and in command as he already has shown he can do.

Can Walsh do it ? Yes he can. But John Connolly is no punching bag. He can do it too. He speaks as eloquently as Walsh does, seems to understand the culture better, and draws voters of all ages and both genders much more readily than Marty Walsh has so far shown.

It is going to be a terrific six weeks, isn’t it ?

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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