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Brown Loses Grip on Central MA Voters

Thursday, November 08, 2012

 

The Democratic Party's coordinated get out the vote effort in Central Mass helped close many of the wide margins Republican Scott Brown enjoyed in 2010 and swing several towns over to Elizabeth Warren's column, leading to her 8-point victory on Tuesday.

During the 2010 special election against Democrat Martha Coakley, Brown performed strongly among Central Mass voters, with four of his 10 best towns, where he secured more than 70 percent of the vote, located in the region.

Only three of those towns appeared in the top 10 this year, and Brown's percentages were lower in all of them: 67.7 percent in Douglas down from 74 percent, 67.1 percent in Sutton down from 71 percent, and 66.2 percent in East Brookfield down from 72 percent. Charlton, which gave Brown 72 percent of its vote two years ago, did not crack the top 10 with 65.2 percent this time around.

Where Coakley won the Democratic holdout of Worcester by just 5 points, Warren commanded a 24-point advantage in the City. She also won Fitchburg by 2 points, which Coakley lost by 19, and Southbridge by 14 points, which Coakley lost by 13.

Turnout Key to Success

The big difference, said Robert Boatright, associate professor of Political Science at Clark University, was voter turnout. While statewide participation hovered just above 50 percent in the off-year special election, Secretary of State William Galvin predicted that voter turnout would be over 70 percent for this year's presidential contest.

"Warren did slightly better than Coakley across the board, but I think she did much better than her in places that leaned more Democratic to begin with," Boatright said.

The professor cited the differences as evidence of Warren's get out the vote effort, something Coakley largely lacked two years ago.

Get Out the Vote Efforts

According to Candy Mero-Carlson, chair of the Worcester Democratic City Committee, 400 volunteers were out knocking on doors on Election Day in the City alone. The city committee also coordinated with nearby Democratic town committees in Shrewsbury, Grafton and Millbury, as well as Congressman Jim McGovern's office and Lieutenant Governor and former Mayor of Worcester, Tim Murray.

"There certainly was a concentrated, coordinated effort in Central Mass to get the vote out and educate the voters, and that we did," said Carlson.

Jason Palitsch, chair of the Shrewsbury town committee, said volunteers were very organized and agressive in their voter outreach efforts, knocking on over 3,000 doors in the town during the final four days leading up to the election.

"We had a lot of new folks come out for Elizabeth who hadn't gotten involved before," he said.

Shrinking Margins

Warren supporters cut Brown's 20-point margin over Coakley in Shrewsbury to just 10 points this week.

Similar shifts could be observed in Millbury, where the Republican's share of votes dropped from 65 percent to 59 percent, and in Grafton, where he went from 64 percent to 58 percent.

Srini Sitaraman, an associate professor of Political Science at Clark, said he was surprised by Warren's victory due to Brown's perceived strength throughout the center of the Commonwealth.

"I thought he had broader support, and that Elizabeth Warren's support was heavily concentrated in the Boston metro area, the Cape and Western Mass."

With the shift in dynamics during a presidential election year and the Democrats' extensive get out the vote campaign, Warren was able to chip away at Brown's support in Central Mass enough to take the Senate seat the region helped propel him to just two years ago.

 

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