Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Boston Vote: Higher Numbers, Lower Turnout

Before the polls closed, it looked as if support for Deval Patrick in cities throughout Massachusetts might be outweighed by a surge of votes from the suburbs. When the counting was over, the Patrick-Murray ticket was re-elected by a tighter margin than in 2006, yet with a higher number of votes from Boston. By comparison with 2006, Boston's turnout was down considerably--from 56.22% to 43.99 percent. But only going by those percentages would be to overlook the dramatic change in the city's number of registered voters, an increase which includes many voters signed up for the election of 2008. So the other comparison is to say the number of people voting in Boston yesterday was still up from the figure for November, 2006 by 6765 or 4.33 percent.

By sections of Boston, Ward 20 (West Roxbury and part of Roslindale) had the highest turnout, at 59.50 percent--which was down from November of 2006, when the figure was 66.36 percent. This year, following primary contests for two open seats in the state legislature and a special election for district city councilor, the number of registered voters in Ward 20 was up by 13.97%, but the number of votes cast, compared with four years earlier, was up by 2.19 percent. Along with a strong showing in Boston for state senator by West Roxbury State Representative Mike Rush (76.62% of the vote) over West Roxbury Republican rival Brad Williams, there was a small change in the break-down for Patrick. Four years ago, he lost one precinct in Ward 20. Yesterday, he carried all 20 precincts.

Citywide, Patrick carried all but 8 of 254 precincts, losing precincts
only in South Boston. He also lost most of these precincts four years ago, when Kerry Healey won 10 precincts in the city. There was a larger jump in enrollment in South Boston (up from November, 2006 by 39.34%), partially fueled by competition in September for the seat being vacated by State Representative Brian Wallace. Though the turnout percentage was down, the number of votes cast was higher, by 14.87 percent. As in past years, the final election results for state representative proved to be lopsided, with the Democratic nominee, Nick Collins, getting 73.13% of the vote over Republican rival Patrick Brennan.

As it turned out, the strongest showing by a Republican running for a local seat in Boston was in the Back Bay and Beacon Hill. That's where Brad Marston received 30.38% of the vote against Democratic incumbent Marty Walz.

Patrick wrapped up his campaigning Monday night with a rally in Roxbury's Dudley Square. The main question, even at the rally, was about getting out the vote. Compared with November of 2006, the figures from predominantly black precincts in Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park show the vote was up modestly--by 3.35%, though the percentage of enrolled voters at the polls was down--from 54.59% to 42.09 percent.

By comparison with four years ago, the Patrick-Murray share of the Boston vote was slightly smaller, down from 72.86% to 70.28 percent. The number of votes they picked up this time in Boston was slightly higher, by less than one percent.