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Evan Horowitz

Your cheat sheet for primary day

Tuesday is primary day, that momentous occasion when we come together and vote — or, less grandly, when we pick the people we most want to vote for again later on.

Here is what we know so far and what we can predict about Tuesday’s results.

What do the polls say?

The race for attorney general may well be the most hotly contested this primary day. While the latest Globe poll has Maura Healey ahead of Warren Tolman by 16 points, a broader look across all recent polls suggests a tighter finish.

The race for treasurer is also close, and with as many as 50 percent of voters still undecided that contest is especially unpredictable.


When it comes to governor, there are clear frontrunners on both sides. Martha Coakley leads the Democratic pack by over 20 points and Charlie Baker is up by as many as 50 points.

What are the differences between candidates?

One way to tease out the differences between the candidates is to look at the words they use. The word Coakley uses most in the “issues” section of her website is “workers.” For Steve Grossman, it’s “business,” and for Don Berwick, “health.” Here’s a fuller analysis.

How big a role has money played?

Money is important, but it’s no guarantee of victory. Grossman and Coakley spent virtually the same amount, yet Coakley has maintained a significant advantage throughout.

It’s worth remembering, too, that the relationship between money and votes flows in both directions. More money can help candidates buy ads and reach voters, but candidates who connect with voters also have the easiest time raising money.

Will it all come down to turnout?

The last time the Democrats had a competitive primary for governor was 2006. And despite the hard-fought nature of the contest and the “star is born” narrative around Deval Patrick, only 25 percent of registered voters showed up.

Overall turnout could be even lower this year. That's what the secretary of state has said, and it’s what Internet traffic suggests. Whereas in the past, Google searches for “governor” and “Democratic primary” rose before primary day, this year’s upswing is less pronounced.



Democratic primary

Come Tuesday evening, we’ll know for whom people voted, who turned up to vote, whether there were any surprising last-minute swings, and whether the polls we have been following for months — and which are summarized int the table below — were missing any big changes in the electoral landscape.

Governor (D)
Martha Coakley4146
Steve Grossman2024
Don Berwick1211
Governor (R)
Charlie Baker5965
Mark Fisher79
Attorney General (D)
Maura Healey4533
Warren Tolman2932
Treasurer (D)
Barry Finegold2316
Deborah Goldberg1816
Thomas Conroy1510

Source: Mass. Numbers

Evan Horowitz digs through data to find information that illuminates the policy issues facing Massachusetts and the United States. He can be reached at evan.horowitz@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHorowitz