Election Predictions: DiDomenico in MSE, Smulowitz in NBM

Sal DiDomenico

Today is election day in the senate seats in Middlesex Suffolk and Essex ( Galluccio’s seat ) and Norfolk Bristol and Middlesex ( Scott Brown’s seat ).

Middlesex Suffolk & Essex:

Turnout is expected to be low. Campaigns are predicting a total turnout of about 13,000 people. I think it will  be even less. Early numbers are very few people at the polls by mid-day.

Here is how I think the candidates will come in:

  • DiDomenico (33%)
  • Flaherty (26%)
  • Simmons (22%)
  • Albano (12%)
  • Benzan (6%)
  • Hill (1%)

DiDomenico’s support is solid in the northern part of the district. If you go past Everett to the north it’s DiDomenico  signs everywhere.

I think Flaherty’s support it soft. A lot of people who would prefer to vote for the true progressives ( Albano and Simmons ) are voting for him just on the perception that he’s the only Cambridge candidate who can win.

That whole ‘triple eagle’ spiel rubs a lot of us the wrong way. But the perception is that he’s the only one from the southern half of the district who can win.

I’ve been hearing more about this theory that if DiDomenico wins, that the #2 and #3 finishers will be in a strong position to challenge in November. This will benefit Simmons as it will get people who are thinking of jumping to Flaherty to stick with Flaherty.

Flaherty is the machine candidate. His indicted former speaker and casino lobbyist father is a big part of his campaign and a big part of his financing. A win for Flaherty is a win for the lobbyists and for the back room insider dealings that are shoving a casino bill down our throats without so much as a public debate.

There is an argument going around that DiDomenico is more of the machine candidate than Flaherty. Those that say this, point to DiDomenico’s broad support of all the political people up in Everett, his connections at the statehouse and his support of casinos.

I think there is a difference between the big statewide machine, and the little Everett machine. For sure DiDomenico has the support of all the political people in Everett. They haven’t had a senator from there for 30 years, so they are all behind him. But how small does a machine have to get before it’s genuine grass roots? I’d say DiDomenico is on that line. Each of those local Everett city councilors and union poeople represent a constituency of like 100 people.

Flaherty represents satatewide political interests. He’s the favored candidate of state level lobbyists PAC’s and unions.

Early reports say the turnout in Cambridge is higher than Everett and the northern reaches of the district and that this benefits Flaherty. I think it’s coming out exactly as expected. Cambridge is more politically active than Everett and I’m sure turnout there is higher per capita than the rest of the district. But Cambridge is just 20% of the electorate, and it’s being divided three ways. The rest of the district’s turnout may be relatively low – but it’s coming out for DiDomenico. The question up north is not “who are you voting for?,” but “are you voting?” because 9 of 10 people up there only know about DiDomenico. Saugus is a very long way from Cambridge. They don’t know and could care less about Flaherty or Simmons.

There is a story about a Flaherty’s internal poll that has good news for Simmons and DiDomenico:

The Flaherty campaign has raised a lot of money, but according to our source, a Flaherty campaign poll surveying 2,500 voters, Sal DiDomenico is scheduled to get the most votes (15.2 percent), followed by Flaherty with 15.1 percent, followed by Simmons (3 percent), Michael Albano (2 percent), Dennis Benzan and Dan Hill (both with 1 percent). That’s with 58 percent undecided, so anything can happen at this point.

Another internal Flaherty poll highlighting Cambridge exclusively shows Simmons leading the pack with 23 percent of the vote, followed by Flaherty with 19 percent and the rest of the candidates with 9 percent combined. Outside Cambridge and Everett (DiDomenico’s homebase).

Norfolk Bristol and Middlesex:

I predict Smulowitz is going to win big here:

  • Smulowitz (70%)
  • Harkins (30%)

Harkins is the insider machine candidate there. More than 50% of her funding is lobbyists ( esp. for casinos and tobacco – that’s right – tobacco ). Today’s big news is the lack of debate on the casino bill. It’s going to hurt her. Moderates in NBM are voting for Ross, liberals going hard for Smuly. Where does that leave Harkins? In the dog house.

The politically active people in Needham are overwhelmingly for Smulowitz. Harkins is stronger among retirees who have voted for her for years. Those people vote – so if Harkins has one thing going for her it’s the seniors.

If she makes it past the primary, then I think Ross wins the general for sure. This is the reddest district in Massachusetts. Scott Brown won here by over 70% in some places. McCain almost won the district in the last presidential. So it’s going to be hard for any Democrat to win here. If it’s Harkins against Ross, Ross will have a strong issue to run on – her terrible campaign finance record. Harkins takes money from every lobbyist going. She’s taken money from over 30 individual lobbyists in the last 4 months alone. More than 50% of her campaign contributions are from lobbyists and PACs.

Plus Harkins of pro-casino and Smulowitz is against them. If Harkins wins then Democrats lose a key differentiating issue in this race.

If Democrats want any chance at winning here they need to vote for Smulowitz.

Update: How did we do?

In Middlesex Suffiolk and Essex he actual results were:

  • Sal DiDomenico 37.2%
  • Tim Flaherty 36.0%
  • Denise Simmons 10.1%
  • Mike Albano 8.4%
  • Dennis Benzan 6.6%
  • Dan Hill 1.5%

We predicted the order of the candidates correctly. And we had most of the percentages almost exactly right. We overestimated how many votes Simmons would be able to take from Flaherty. She got only about 10% of the votes, we thought 20%. Simmons really was unable to get much support outside of Cambridge, and she didn’t take as much of that as we thought.

In Norfolk Bristol and Middlesex the actual results were:

  • Smulowitz (51%)
  • Harkins (49%)

Again we got the order right – Smulowitz won but not by the massive margin we expected. He ran a very smart campaign. Maybe it was too much to hope for that a rank newcomer would be able to crush an 20 year incumbent. It was pretty impressive that he was able to win at all.

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