Super Tuesday in the Least Republican City in Massachusetts

In Somerville, 196 people are running for ward-committee spots with the Democratic Party; one person is doing so for the Republican Party.

Super Tuesday: Will Mitt Romney emerge as the presumptive Republican nominee? Will Rick Santorum gain enough wins to swing momentum in his direction? Will Newt Gingrich bow out of the race after today's results?

Don't ask the people of Somerville.

No city in Massachusetts has a smaller proportion of Republicans than Somerville, where about 4.5 percent of voters are registered Republicans. In the whole state, only the tiny towns of Aquinnah, Wendell and Provincetown have smaller percentages of GOP-registered voters, based on numbers from 2010.

A city with one Republican

The national media is focused on the Republican presidential race, but Massachusetts voters today are also selecting local party officials.

In Somerville, voters from each political party select members of ward committees (like town committees in other communities), who represent their party at the neighborhood level. There are Democratic and Republican ward committees.

On the Democratic side, 196 people, total, are running for their respective ward committees (there are seven wards in Somerville), and the list of candidates include people like the mayor, state representatives and aldermen.

On the Republican side, one person in the entire city of Somerville is running for ward committee: .

A lifelong Somerville resident and self-described "Reagan Republican," McCarthy is the only person in Somerville running for a local position with the Republican Party. He's running in Ward 5, and if he wins he'll need to find two other Republicans to join him in order to form the committee.

Tumbleweed at the polls

All the excitement in today's elections on the Republican side of the fence, since Barack Obama doesn't face a challenge to become the Democratic presidential nominee, and Somerville has so few Republicans. Perhaps that explains why the city's polling places seem a bit dead today.

On a quick drive around Somerville's polling locations, there were no signs set up for any candidate and no supporters hanging around and holding placards, not even for Romney, who was governor of the state.

Perhaps it's significant there were no signs for Obama, either, even though he's on the Democtratic ballot.

At the polling location for Ward 5, Precinct 1, 87 people had cast votes as of about 11:10 a.m. At one point, two residents wandered into the polls, which excited a photographer from Reuters, the news organization, who had been dispatched to the location to take photos of voters. Good luck.

John K. Atsalis March 07, 2012 at 06:55 AM
The sample ballots are hardly an announcement of the election itself. Again, there were physical signs around the City (such as at the Davis Square intersection, Power House rotary) advertising the municipal elections in November (and I recall the same for the provisional municipal for September). I understand there was a certain lack of enthusiasm for this election in Somerville, but while there may be few Republicans here, there are many unenrolled voters and we the unenrolled are eligible to pull ballots from either party. My point is that the City should strive to be consistent about its outreach for all elections, regardless of expected turnout or expected relevance. I sincerely doubt the 2008 primary was advertised in the same manner!
Chris Orchard March 07, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I have a friend who lives in the area but originally comes from California, and he's made a similar comment: That Massachusetts doesn't really publicize its elections. Apparently in California voters get postcards in the mail every time there's an election, and, in general, elections are better publicized. In Australia, citizens are required to vote in elections. I think that's an interesting idea.
Warren Dew March 08, 2012 at 01:08 AM
To be fair, I don't remember any reminder from the city about the 2008 primary, though I got plenty of reminders from various candidates.
Amanda C March 09, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I agree. I didn't see anything posted anywhere. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought the high school was closed when I arrived. After the fact, I did see that there was a Facebook post a few days before.
John K. Atsalis September 01, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I don't think that's the issue. Look around the City right now, and they are aggressively publicizing the State Primary and I expect it will be the same for the November elections. The March primary was either not a priority, or perhaps Massachusetts doesn't publicize presidential primaries. But they certainly engage in voter outreach when it suits them!


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