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Voter Guide: 20 Things to Watch on Election Day

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Election Day is here and GoLocalWorcester breaks down 20 things to watch in the Senate and state races throughout the day.

1.) This year's state primary election was held on a Thursday and saw voter turnout in the low double digits. But with close races for the Senate and presidency, as well as three statewide ballot questions, officials are predicting a very different scene at the polls today. Secretary of State William Galvin is reported to have projected voter turnout upwards of 70 percent, and with so many ballots being cast there is always a possibility of surprise outcomes.

2.) While Massachusetts does not allow early voting, the state's absentee ballots can serve much the same purpose for voters who are either unable or unwilling to head to the polls on Election Day. As of Friday, nearly 4,600 absentee ballots had been requested in Worcester, according to the City Clerk's office, up from around 4,000 in 2008. Candidates making their last-minute pitches to constituents have to hope they reached the increasing number of absentee voters before their ballots were cast.

3.) Scott Brown owned Central Mass during his 2010 special election victory over Martha Coakley, and how the region shakes out will be just as important this time around. The City of Worcester was an island of blue in a sea of red that encompassed most of Worcester County and included several of the Republican's top towns, where he secured more than 70 percent of the vote two years ago. Whether Brown can hold the region and those high margins may go a long way to determining tonight's winner.

4.) Elizabeth Warren is riding high right now on a string of recent polls that have found her leading in the highly-contested Senate race. But other polls from the past week have painted a picture of a race that is still too close to call, and Warren supporters cannot afford to let up on the gas or become overconfident until all the votes are counted if they want to wrest the late Ted Kennedy's seat from Scott Brown.

5.) Former Governor Mitt Romney has no shot at winning Massachusetts from President Obama, but how he fares in the Bay State's polls today could still have big ramifications for some of the other races on the ballot. Brown may be able to get some Obama voters to split their ticket with him, but it's unlikely to work the other way around with any Romney voters. The more the GOP candidate can close the gap, the better the odds for his fellow party members lower down on the voting card.

6.) Question 1, or the so-called "right to repair" ballot measure, was supposed to be a nonissue after legislators passed a compromise bill this summer that gave automakers until the 2018 model year to comply with new diagnostic and repair information requirements. But members of the coalition in support of the ballot question decided they still wanted to go forward with it even after tentatively agreeing to skip or vote no on the measure following the last minute bill's passage.

7.) The issues of voter fraud and voter suppression have received increased attention on the national level this year election cycle, and the Commonwealth is no different. In Worcester, September's state primary brought reports of both. The Secretary of State's office and the City's Board of Election Commissioners seem to have clarified the role of election observers and the policies and procedures governing their conduct in polling locations, but if the final tallies are close in Worcester, expect this issue to resurface in the aftermath.

8.) Millions have been spent in the fight over Question 2 on this year's ballot in Massachusetts, the Prescribing Medication to End Life law, referred to by one side as "death with dignity" and by the other as "assisted-suicide." Whether or not the measure will pass is more uncertain now than it was earlier this year. An October 30 poll by Suffolk University found Question 2 supporters only 6 points ahead of the opposition, 47 percent to 41 percent, after having enjoyed a 37-point lead in Suffolk's previous poll six weeks ago.

9.) Richard Tisei is currently polling ahead of Democratic incumbent John Tierney in the 6th Congressional District race, and if the openly gay Republican wins, he'll be the first member of the GOP to represent the Commonwealth in the House in almost two decades.

10.) Running unopposed in his reelection bid this year, Congressman Jim McGovern has put his campaign's resources to work helping out other Democratic candidates. He's scheduled to travel all over the Central and Western portions of the state today, from Worcester to Northampton and Greenfield then back again, greeting voters and kicking off canvassing events.

11.) Lieutenant Governor and former Worcester Mayor Tim Murray could play a similar role to McGovern on Election Day. He has already made a number of appearances in the city at events for Warren and other Democratic candidates, and he joined with five other past and present mayors of Worcester to endorse her last Friday.

12.) In the 14th Worcester District State Representative race, Bill McCarthy may be making the most competitive run of area Republicans. Having run for office in the past, McCarthy has more experience and more money than the first-time GOP candidates, but he still faces an uphill battle, and the addition of a third candidate is not likely to help his odds.

13.) Winthrop Handy, the West Boylston small business owner making a run for the 14th District seat as an Independent, may prove to be a spoiler in the three-way race. The votes he picks up are more likely to come from the Republican challenger McCarthy than the Democratic incumbent Jim O'Day.

14.) O'Day is one of the candidates that will tap into McGovern's star power today, joining the Congressman for a standout an hour after the polls open. With the Democratic network in place in the area, as well as O'Day's strong union support, the incumbent stands to see another two years without too much difficulty.

15.) The medical marijuana law, Question 3 on this year's ballot, looks to have a good shot at passing, though it's not as much of a sure thing as the auto repair question. A flood of out-of-state money lifted the pro-pot campaign far above its local opposition, which was outspent by more than $1 million.

16.) President Obama will win Massachusetts handily, but the question will be how many voters who cast their ballot for him will mark the races below it in the Democratic column. The more general party goodwill he can drum up, the better for Senate, House and state candidates.

17.) Democrat Mary Keefe's path from the 15th Worcester District to the State House is relatively clear at this point. The heavily Democratic district, which is also the city's first minority-majority district, was host to a heated five-way primary race, and the September contest from which Keefe emerged victorious was likely the main attraction.

18.) Republican Brian O'Malley may have little chance of winning the 15th District seat, previously held by Democratic State Rep. Vincent Pedone for nearly 20 years, but his candidacy has at least provided the district's voters with a choice this November.

19.) Two-term Democratic State Senator Mike Moore has an undeniable advantage in the 2nd Worcester District race. His pro-business credentials should add to his already broad base of support in order to win the Millbury Dem a third term.

20.) Republican Auburn Selectman Steve Simonian has been pounding the pavement since March in his efforts to unseat Moore. Whether his grassroots door-knocking campaign can overcome the Democrat's monetary advantage and incumbent boost a long shot, but still in the realm of possibility judging by the state Democratic Party's attacks against him.


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