1st Suffolk & Middlesex : Signs and Numbers


^ Senate candidate Lydia Edwards (l) with Councillor Michelle Wu, in Chinatown — in whose precincts 450 voters chose a Republican ballot on March 1st and are now potentially ineligible to vote in the Senate race

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With five weeks remaining, our District’s contest to choose a new State Senator continues to be a battle of interest groups in which the concerns of ordinary voters – and of interest groups not intricately aligned with the Democratic Party — will likely play no part.

Every time I write about the shape of this race, I decry how it is playing out; and this article is no exception. The race among seven (7) people is a classic example of unrepresentative electing. How can any ONE of them fail to NOT SPEAK for most of those who vote in it, much less all the voters ? 4000 votes probably wins it. That’s about four (4) percent of all the voters in the District and, likely, about 20 percent of those who actually vote on April 12th.

In covering the race respectfully, I almost feel complicit in its manipulations. Yet one cannot only rant. There is a contest, and it has a shape. Here’s some numbers to give it a modicum of contour :

1.social media outreach. Each of the seven candidates has facebook page and a twitter account. As of an hour ago, here’s the number of followers for the seven:

Dan Rizzo : 2665 facebook “like,” 2102 twitter followers. Total : 4,767

Jay Livingstone : 867 facebook “likes,” 2,107 twitter followers. Total : 3,064

Steve Morabito : 1,274 facebook “likes,” 1,083 twitter followers. Total : 2,357

Diana Hwang : 939 facebook “likes,” 596 twitter “followers.” Total : 1,535

Lydia Edwards : 1,212 facebook “likes,” 212 twitter followers. Total : 1,424

Joe Boncore : 1,176 facebook “likes,” 55 twitter followers. Total : 1,231

Paul Rogers : 235 facebook “likes,” 170 twitter followers. Total : 405

Social media is not everything. Lawn and balcony signs are also going up all over the district. Unfortunately, my axiom here almost always holds true : “the candidate with the most house signs loses.” Who has the most house signs ? My daily perusal of the District says Boncore 1st, Rizzo 2nd, Livingstone 3rd, Hwang 4th, Morabito 5th. I have seen few Edwards signs and only one for Paul Rogers.

Events also matter — meet and greets and headquarters openings. All of the candidates have had these. Boncore probably the most, then Livingstone, then Hwang, then Rizzo, then Edwards and Morabito. Rogers entered the campaign late but is beginning to join the event cycle.

All the candidates have gained interest-group endorsements. Whether these will generate actual votes is hard to say. In last year’s East Boston state representative race, interest groups fared poorly. I suspect the same will be true this time. Interest groups are good, in this sort of contest, only for donations and lawn sign housekeeping.

Oddly enough, I see scant sign of campaign “consultants” on anyone’s behalf. What role could a “consultant” play, in any case ? Identify your voters, keep them,  get them to the polls. Speak smartly at Forums. Remember to say “thank you” to those who attend your events or volunteer for the campaign. What else is there to do ?

There’s one additional numbers factor that I doubt anyone in this contest has thought of. At the March 1, 2016 presidential primary, 1,561 voters in the Boston part of the District cast votes for Trump, taking a Republican ballot to do so. In Revere, 2,280 voters cast a ballot for Trump. In Winthrop, 1,167. That’s a total of 5,008 Trump votes. If trump statistics hold true here as they do elsewhere, two-thirds of those votes came from voters who are not registered Republicans. So my question is, how many of the 5,008 did not remember to sign a registration-switch card, after voting, and now are ineligible to v0te in the Senate race ?

Add to that a big part of the 3,500 other ballots that chose the GOP primary and you’re talking a lot of voters potentially disfranchised from choosing a state Senator. The special interest groups, of course, just love that !

The Revere number should especially worry Dan Rizzo and Steve Morabito, but the Winthrop number (and East Boston’s 785 Trump ballots, should worry Joe Boncore. I doubt seriously if many Livingstone, Hwang, Edwards, or Rogers voters voted in the March 1st GOP primary, much less for Trump.

You may consider this observation nit-picking, but in a seven way primary in which not many voters will vote,as many as 5,008 voters, previously eligible but now ineligible, is no small thing.

Had one of the seven cared to entrust his or her candidacy to all the voters, by running as an independent for the May 10th actual election, we wouldn’t have this tripped-up situation. But we do have it now. And you are asking why I dislike this entire contest ?

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



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