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Majority of Central Mass Voters are Independent - Why It Matters

Thursday, August 30, 2012

 

More than half of registered voters in Worcester County chose not to enroll with a political party, indicating that many votes may still be up for grabs this November.

According to new data released by the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office, 289,202 primary voters registered as unenrolled in Worcester County.

This group of unenrolled voters represents 57.59 percent of the roughly 500,000 total voters registered in the county.

145,252 voters, or 28.92 percent, registered as Democrats, and only 64,505, or 12.85 percent registered as Republicans. 705 voters registered as Green-Rainbow.

Statewide numbers were similar, with a slightly higher percentage of registered Democrats (35.56 percent), 11.29 percent registered Republicans, and 52.60 percent unenrolled.

Independents to Make All the Difference

Several experts have noted the role of independent voters in this fall's election, and the new voter registration numbers hammer home the importance of reaching out beyond a candidate's core constituency.

The Massachusetts Senate race between Republican Senator Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren may have the most riding on the independent voters of Central Mass.

The latest data from Public Policy Polling indicate that Brown currently enjoys a 58-32 advantage over Warren among independents and a 49-44 lead overall.

"Professor Warren's ultra-liberal crusade for higher taxes and bigger government is driving moderate, independent voters away," said Tim Buckley, communications director for the Massachusetts Republican Party.

"Given Worcester County's higher than average percentage of independent voters, she is going to have a hard time convincing folks that the self-proclaimed founder of the radical Occupy movement is the right choice."

Central Mass voted decidedly in Brown's favor during his 2010 contest against Attorney General Martha Coakley, but Mass Dems cautioned against putting too much faith in those numbers.

"Special elections are different than Presidential elections with many more people engaged and hundreds of thousands more expected to vote," said John Walsh, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

"With President Obama at the top of the ticket, Scott Brown faces a steep climb with strong headwinds because of his record of voting for tax breaks for big oil and billionaires instead of for middle class families and small businesses."

PPP's polling on the presidential race in the Bay State this month put Obama up 55-39 on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Split Tickets and Split Decisions

The disparity in poll numbers between the presidential and Senate races seems to indicate that, for voters in the Commonwealth, this year's election comes down to more than a national-level battle of Democrats-versus-Republicans, despite Warren's newest ad campaign attempting to portray the race in such a light.

UMass-Lowell Political Science professor Morgan Marietta said that, when it comes to those in the middle of the road, the latest polling suggests that more voters see Warren as too far to the left than they see Brown as too far to the right.

"Brown's set of On the Road ads have been effective in humanizing him in a non-partisan way, expressing core values of patriotism and support for hard-working citizens," Marietta said.

"Brown's humanizing campaign may be more effective with independents than Warren's direct appeal to her core constituency." 

 

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