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MassINC Analyzes the Gubernatorial Primary Results

Last week I drafted an analysis of the primary results, but it wasn’t gelling, and I didn’t publish it. I’m very glad I didn’t. I would have been put to shame by the excellent analysis by Robert David Sullivan at MassINC.

His analysis backs up the common wisdom that it’s Deval Patrick’s race to lose. The primary showed that Patrick has the ability to get Democrats and unenrolled (independant) voters to the ballot box. Patrick got more of each of those than any candidate in quite a while. The question is, of course, what the rest of the electorate will do. Can Patrick convert the ones that voted against him, and the ones that didn’t vote at all, to his side? Can he get them to the polls?

If turnout equals that of 2002, and Patrick holds on to his primary supporters, he only has to win 37 percent of those who haven’t voted for him already in order to capture a majority in November — and if independent Christy Mihos and Green Party candidate Grace Ross capture a meaningful portion of the vote between them, the share he needs will be even lower. Healey, on the other hand, will have to win about 63 percent of the voters who voted for one of Patrick’s opponents or sat out the Democratic primary in order to match Romney’s 50 percent total. By comparison, Shannon O’Brien’s primary total in 2002 represented 11.1 percent of the total vote in the fall — meaning that Mitt Romney only had to win about 56 percent of the voters who were up for grabs after the primary.

I’m also struck by the list of towns that he thinks are Healey’s key to victory: “Billerica, Revere, Saugus, Tewksbury, and Woburn.” Those are cities that, at least so far, have been immune to Patrick’s message. Compare that to the list of towns represented by Senator Havern: Woburn, Arlington, Billerica, Burlington and Lexington. Arlington and Lexington went for Patrick in a big way, but Woburn, Billerica, and Burlington were bigger fans of Reilly or Gabrieli. Someday, there is going to be a very interesting race for that seat.