Former vice president Joe Biden won the Democratic presidential primary in Newton on Super Tuesday, edging out Senator Elizabeth Warren, who came in second. Biden received 35 percent of the Democratic votes cast in the Garden City, while Warren received 28 percent.
Nearly 17 percent of Democratic ballots in Newton went to Senator Bernie Sanders, and 16 percent to Michael Bloomberg.
Shawn Fitzgibbons, chair of the Newton Democratic Party, said that last-minute changes in the presidential race -- namely Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar dropping out, as well as some unease about some of the candidates -- contributed to the results.
“With both Buttigieg and Klobuchar leaving the race, that really dramatically changed the question [Tuesday] and over the weekend,” Fitzgibbons said.
Across Massachusetts, Biden also topped the Democratic ballot with nearly 34 percent, followed by Sanders with nearly 27 percent, Warren with about 21 percent, and Bloomberg with nearly 12 percent, according to the Associated Press.
Fitzgibbons said he got the sense that for many Democratic voters, their main priority was choosing a candidate who could receive more votes than President Donald Trump in the general election in November.
“Most Democrats I know were really struggling with who to vote for,” Fitzgibbons said. “Because everybody wants to be picking the person that is going to get rid of Trump this November, and I think people were just unsure about who could be the best person to do that.”
This caused voters to vote strategically as opposed to based on the issues, Fitzgibbons said.
Bryan Barash, who worked on Elizabeth Warren’s campaign in Newton, echoed this sentiment. Barash said he was disappointed to see Warren finish behind Biden in the primary in Newton after hearing support for Warren from voters.
“In my conversations, it’s very clear to me that a lot of people voted strategically whether because they felt like it was a two-person race, or they were worried about who could beat Trump,” Barash said. “It’s unfortunate because I think if people voted who they really thought would be the best president, then Elizabeth would have won.”
Warren dropped out of the race Thursday.
Barash also said he does not agree with the strategic voting approach.
“I think that any Democrat could beat Trump, but I do think there was a lot of strategic voting that was happening, which is, I think it’s too bad,” Barash said. “I think people should vote for who they think would be the best president.”
Although Biden won the primary in Newton, Fitzgibbons said Warren and Sanders had the most prominent campaign efforts in Newton. Fitzgibbons also said Warren had a very well-organized campaign in Newton as well as in the state of Massachusetts in general.
Barash said Warren had a strong support base in Newton composed of people who have been involved in politics for a long time as well as new people who were interested in supporting Warren’s presidential campaign.
“I hope that leads to a whole group of new people who are active in the community,” Barash said. “I really think it was a robust effort that, if the campaign narrative hadn’t become ‘it’s down to two people’ in the last day or two, I think she would have had a very strong night in Newton.”
There were also efforts in support of Sanders in Newton, said Bill Humphrey, a Newton city councilor who worked on Sanders’ campaign.
“The all-volunteer and all-ages Bernie Sanders team in Newton worked door-to-door to deliver nearly 5,000 Newton votes to Senator Sanders in support of his platform on Medicare for All, student loan cancellation, and a Green New Deal,” Humphrey said in an e-mail.
About 54 percent of Newton’s over 61,000 registered voters voted in this year’s presidential primary, according to unofficial voter turnout data from the city of Newton.
In the Republican primary, 77.5 percent of voters in Newton voted for incumbent President Donald Trump.
Fitzgibbons said he got a sense of a relatively higher turnout this year from his own voting experience.
“There were lines this morning when I voted,” Fitzgibbons said. “My general sense is that voter turnout was quite high for a presidential primary.”
In total, 30,209 Newton residents cast ballots in the Democratic party including 10,510 for Biden, 8,441 for Warren; 4,994 for Sanders; and 4,734 for Bloomberg. Other candidates on the ballot collected the remaining votes.
In the Republican primary, 2,065 Newton residents cast ballots for President Trump, and 408 voted for William Weld.
Kaitlyn Riggio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.