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Galvin predicts turnout of up to 400,000 at Mass. polls

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said turnout is likely to be higher than in 1996, the last time there was an uncontested Democratic primary.

Globe Staff/File

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said turnout is likely to be higher than in 1996, the last time there was an uncontested Democratic primary.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin predicts that between 350,000 and 400,000 voters will cast ballots in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary.

Galvin said turnout is likely to be higher than in 1996, the last time there was an uncontested Democratic primary. That year, Republican Bob Dole had only weak competition from Pat Buchanan and just 290,000 ballots were cast in the Republican primary.

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“This will be a little stronger than ’96,’’ Galvin said, since the outcome of the presidential race is still up in the air and Mitt Romney will draw local support as a former Massachusetts governor.

But Galvin said turnout will probably be much lower than the 528,000 who voted in the 2008 Republican primary, when both Romney and eventual nominee John McCain drew strong Bay State support. (Romney beat McCain in Massachusetts, 51 to 41 percent.) The 2008 race also drew more attention because it was held earlier in the process, on Feb. 5.

Just over 16,000 Massachusetts voters cast absentee ballots in the Republican primary, with an uptick over the last few days. Galvin said suggestions by the national news media that Tuesday could be a decisive day in the campaign “probably helped generate more interest.’’

While Massachusetts voters registered with a party can vote only in their party’s primary, independents can vote in either. But Galvin said independent voters tend to vote in partisan races only where they believe they can make a difference, or when a particular candidate appeals to them, as McCain did in 2008. Galvin predicted that few independents will turn out on Tuesday, given the lack of campaigning here.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. statewide. — SHIRA SCHOENBERG

Kerry hits GOP ‘attitude’

Senator John Kerry blasted what he branded Republican “ideological rigidity and stupidity’’ Monday for driving moderates like Olympia Snowe out of Congress and damaging the United States image abroad.

The Massachusetts Democrat, speaking in Boston to a blend of Democratic and Republican business leaders at a breakfast meeting of the nonpartisan New England Council, said inflexibility by Republicans in the House and Senate has blocked investment in the country’s infrastructure and education and energy systems while China and other competitors fill the void.

“We’re sending a message of indecision, of gridlock, of weakness, of an inability to seize this global moment,’’ said Kerry.

Saying the GOP is singularly committed to limiting Barack Obama to being a one-term president, Kerry said critics who are for parliamentary rules changes miss the real problem.

“It’s not the rules; it’s the people. It’s an attitude,’’ he said.

MassVictory, an offshoot of the Massachusetts Republican Party, pointed out a recent Congressional Quarterly analysis showing that Kerry had voted with his own party 97 percent of the time.

“Senator Kerry is correct: partisan gridlock is responsible for hindering progress in Washington, and with his 97 percent voting record with his party leaders, he is an offender-in-chief,’’ said party spokeswoman Alleigh Marre. “Our state and country need more elected officials focused on solving problems and making progress, and fewer hypocrites like Senator Kerry focused on throwing rocks at others.’’

The five-term senator, who was his party’s 2004 presidential nominee, said Snowe, the Maine Republican who cited partisan gridlock as she announced her retirement last week, was “tired and fed up with an orthodoxy of a caucus and a party that requires them to toe the line through absurdity.’’ — GLEN JOHNSON

Poll reveals downside to lengthy GOP fight

The long Republican primary fight is hurting the GOP candidates, according to a poll released Monday by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.

The poll found that 40 percent of respondents said the primary process has given them a less favorable view of the Republican Party, while about 10 percent had a more favorable impression.

NBC reported that words used by respondents to describe the Republican process included: “Unenthusiastic,’’ “painful,’’ “disappointed,’’ “underwhelmed,’’ and “uninspiring.’’

The poll found that President Obama’s approval ratings hit 50 percent for the first time since May, according to the Wall Street Journal. At the same time, favorability ratings for the Republicans have dropped. According to the poll, 40 percent of Americans view former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney unfavorably, while only 28 percent view him favorably. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania had even larger gaps between their favorable and unfavorable ratings.

Obama would lead Romney in a head-to-head race by 6 percentage points, according to the poll, but that’s a tighter margin than against any other GOP foe.

The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is one of several polls that have found the Republican fight is hurting the Republican candidates. However, as the Globe reported last week, whether the negative impact will be felt in November is unclear. — SHIRA SCHOENBERG

Ballot mischief feared

MONTPELIER - There’s concern among some Vermont Republicans that Democrats may take a GOP ballot when voting in Tuesday’s primary to try to cause mischief in the Republican presidential race.

The liberal website Daily Kos has been calling for voters in states with open primary voting - such as Vermont - to take Republican ballots and support Rick Santorum, with the aim of denying a victory to front-runner Mitt Romney.

Vermont primary voters can choose either party ballot. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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