In 2012 Elizabeth Warren received a huge push in her Senate bid by the 10 biggest cities in Massachusetts. These cities combined were 50.6% Democratic in 2012, in 2018 that number has dropped down to 48.5%. And while the combined percentage of Democrats in these 10 cities has gotten 2% lower, they now make up 1% more of the total number of registered Democrats throughout the state, meaning they have a little more bearing on the election despite their loss of Democratic registration. There is however reason for her to be concerned in 2018 because these 10 cities may not give her the push she needs to win her re-election bid. Listed below are the 10 cities in question along with the percentage of their vote that Warren won in 2012, listed in alphabetical order.
1. Boston: Warren received 74%
2. Brockton: Warren received 68%
3. Cambridge: Warren won 85%
4. Lowell: Warren received 59%
5. Lynn: Warren received 65%
6. New Bedford: Warren received 70%
7. Newton: Warren received 67%
8. Quincy: Warren received 54%
9. Springfield: Warren received 74%
10. Worcester: Warren received 62%
As you can see by the percentages above, Elizabeth Warren won 9 of the 10 largest cities in Massachusetts in landslides, with Quincy being the only city that was relatively close. Boston was the most successful city for Warren in terms of total voters as she won by almost 120,000 votes. In Cambridge where Warren had her biggest victory by percentage, she won by over 33,000 votes. So why exactly should Warren be concerned that her numbers won’t be as high in 2018 as they were in 2012?
Let’s start by looking at voter turnout. Only 2 of the 10 cities listed above had a turnout rate over 70%, New Bedford with 70% and Newton with 77.9%. The two smallest turnout rates were Worcester and Springfield who both had 56.5% turnout rates. The average turnout rate between the 10 cities was 63.9%, 9% lower than the state turnout level for the election. These numbers are indicative, especially in a year with a presidential election, that big city Democrats did not show up to the polls. In fact, when looking at exit polls from the 2012 Senate election, 78.6% of Democrats across the state showed up to the polls, making the state average nearly 15% higher than the average amongst the largest cities. So the question is, if that was the turnout rate in an election year with the presidency on the line, how will turnout look in 2018 without a presidential election?
The next piece of this puzzle we need to examine is how Elizabeth Warren did at the polls in these 10 cities compared to Barack Obama in 2012. Here are those results, once again listed in alphabetical order
1. Boston: Warren received 5% less voters than Obama
2. Brockton: Warren received 6% less voters than Obama
3. Cambridge: Warren received 1% less voters than Obama
4. Lowell: Warren received 8% less voters than Obama
5. Lynn: Warren received 7% less voters than Obama
6. New Bedford: Warren received 6% less voters than Obama
7. Newton: Warren received 4% less voters than Obama
8. Quincy: Warren received 7% less voters than Obama
9. Springfield: Warren received 6% less voters than Obama
10. Worcester: Warren received 7% less voters than Obama
What exactly do these numbers mean? Well the fact that Obama’s opponent in 2012 was former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney makes it surprising that Warren did worse than Obama across the board. One thing it shows is that Warren failed to connect with moderate and independent voters in 2012, something she surely hasn’t improved on since. In 2012 Warren only gained the support of 41% of independents while Obama won 52% of the independent vote, independents made up 45% of the voters in 2012, and have gone up 1.5% since then. Another glaring issue these numbers show for Warren is that with Obama not running for President in 2018, nor any Presidential election happening, the voters who favored Obama and put Warren’s name on the ballot to help Obama gain Democrats in the senate, may not show up to the polls this time around. This was shown in both of Senator Ed Markey’s elections in 2013 when only 27.5% of voters showed up to the polls, and again in 2014 when turnout was only 48.2%.
The final piece of this puzzle is how Democratic registration has changed in these 10 cities since 2012. Here’s a look at those numbers.
1. Boston: 2.2% Decrease in Democratic registration
2. Brockton: 0.5% Decrease in Democratic registration
3. Cambridge: 0.5% Decrease in Democratic registration
4. Lowell: 1.7% Decrease in Democratic registration
5. Lynn: 1.6% Decrease in Democratic registration
6. New Bedford: 4.6% Decrease in Democratic registration
7. Newton: 1.9% Decrease in Democratic registration
8. Quincy: 2.9% Decrease in Democratic registration
9. Springfield: 2.5% Decrease in Democratic registration
10. Worcester: 2% Decrease in Democratic registration
Clearly these are not good numbers as all but Brockton and Cambridge are either above or nearing a 2% decrease in Democratic registration. When matching these numbers with the already low voter turnout, it spells big trouble for Elizabeth Warren in 2018. And without Obama’s supporters coming out to give Warren a boost, we have just another reason to suspect a big upset in Massachusetts this November.