BOSTON — Voters are gearing up for the GOP primary in Massachusetts Tuesday. Former Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to win, so the question for many is: by how large a margin?
The Republicans vying for their party’s presidential nomination haven’t spent much time campaigning in Massachusetts. The last time it seems Romney made a public appearance in the state was the day after the New Hampshire primary, in early January.
Still, voters are paying attention. A casual survey of shoppers at South Shore Plaza in Braintree Sunday showed many people are ready for Tuesday’s contest, and know exactly which candidate they’ll pick.
Margaret Kaleh is retired and an unenrolled voter from Dedham. She plans to vote for Romney since he “was a good governor.”
“He’s a very smart man. He’s a good businessman,” Kaleh said. “So I think he’d be good for the country.”
Republican Mary Beth Kuhn works for a mutual fund company and lives in Norwell. She thinks Romney will win Massachusetts, but not by much. It frustrates her that Romney has to struggle for the nomination.
“I like Romney,” Kuhn said. “I know people can’t relate to him. I don’t want to relate to my president. I want a smart guy.”
State GOP leaders are hoping people don’t assume Romney will win the primary and therefore not show up at the polls. Massachusetts will send 41 delegates to the Republican National Convention. The delegates are divided proportionally in this state. A candidate has to win 15 percent to pick up any delegates. Party Chairman Robert Maginn* said he hopes Romney wins more than 65 percent of the vote and takes all of the delegates.
Of the candidates, Maginn thinks Romney is the only one who can beat President Obama, including here in Massachusetts.
“With the shape of the economy,” Maginn said, “with his turnaround skills, he’ll actually turn Massachusetts into a toss-up state.”
Maginn said a Romney nomination could help Republican candidates in other local races. He thinks Romney would generate more excitement and votes for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, for instance.
In Massachusetts, Republicans make up 11 percent of registered voters. The majority are unenrolled. Secretary of State William Galvin said it’s hard to predict Tuesday’s turnout among independent voters.
“My guess is there won’t be a large independent participation in either primary this time because I don’t think the independents are that motivated by either party at the present time,” Galvin said.
One person we know will participate in Massachusetts primary is Romney himself. According to his campaign, the former governor is scheduled to vote at a senior center in Belmont around 5 p.m. Tuesday and will hold a party in downtown Boston to watch the Super Tuesday results.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled GOP Party Chairman Robert Maginn’s last name.