What To Watch For On Mass. Primary Day

The candidates have traversed the state, shaken countless hands, and made their final pitches. Now it's up to Massachusetts voters to decide primary races for governor, other state offices and dozens of local contests.

Here are a few things to watch for in Tuesday's primary:

Low Turnout Expected

Voters are not expected to turn out in large numbers Tuesday. At a press conference Monday, Secretary of State William Galvin projected 550,000 people would vote in the Democratic primary and up to 170,000 would vote in the Republican primary — making the total turnout unlikely to hit more than 15 to 20 percent of registered voters.

Those numbers would be a significant decrease from the last time there was an open seat for governor. That was in 2006, when more than 900,000 voters turned out for the Democratic primary.

"I would be happy to be wrong," Galvin said. "I would be thrilled if we crash 600,000 [for the Democratic primary], but I'm at this point skeptical."

(A note here: Unenrolled voters can vote in either primary in Massachusetts.)

The 6th District

We're watching many races — the gubernatorial primaries, the Democratic attorney general's race, the Democratic treasurer's race, the Democratic Middlesex County district attorney's race — but again, like in 2012, we're keeping a close watch on northeastern Massachusetts.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. John Tierney, who has held the seat representing the North Shore for 17 years, won his last election over Republican Richard Tisei by just 3,600 votes — less than 1 percentage point. If Tierney wins the primary he would again face Tisei in the general election. But Tierney will first have to get past the four fellow Democrats challenging him in Tuesday's primary: John Devine, Marisa DeFranco, Seth Moulton and John Gutta.

And some recent polls (using interactive technology) show Tierney facing strong competition from Mouton. A poll by the Emerson College Polling Society showed Tierney edging Mouton, 47-44. Another poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of a committee that supports Moulton, showed the challenger leading Tierney, 47-45.

Link Interlude

- Gubernatorial Candidates: Bios, Profiles And WBUR Interviews

- Where The Gubernatorial Candidates Stand On 5 Issues

- What The Polls Say For The Primary: Coakley, Baker Lead; Uncertainty Everywhere Else

- Radio Boston AG Candidate Interviews: Maura Healey, Warren Tolman

- Democratic Mass. Treasurer Candidates Vie For Voter Attention

- Don’t Forget The Legislature: Breaking Down The (Few) Races To Watch

- Special Data-Enhanced Section: Poll Vault

Assuming It's Coakley, Does Margin Of Victory Matter?

We're jumping ahead here, but numerous polls indicate it'll be Democratic front-runner Martha Coakley against GOP front-runner Charlie Baker in the governor's race (alongside three independents). If that's the case, does margin of victory Tuesday matter?

The latest WBUR poll has Coakley with a 21-point lead over her closest rival, Treasurer Steve Grossman. One analyst says the expected margin of victory in this race could raise some questions ahead of the general election.

"If Grossman does a little bit better than expected, some doubts might emerge about Coakley, so that I think would be the dream scenario for Charlie Baker," political analyst Jeff Berry said on WBUR’s Morning Edition Monday morning.

Headshot of Zeninjor Enwemeka

Zeninjor Enwemeka Senior Business Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a senior business reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.



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