Voter turnout was huge yesterday. In “blue” state Massachusetts, 16,300 Democrats shed their party affiliation to become independent voters. Since Jan. 1, 3,500 more shifted to the Mass GOP. Why? According to Secretary of State William Galvin’s guess, it’s simple: “The Trump phenomenon.”
“The tenor of the Republican campaign has been completely different from what we’ve seen in prior Republican presidential campaigns,” Galvin said. “You have to look no farther than the viewership for some of the televised debates.
“The New York Times referred to the campaign as crude; I suppose that’s fair,” added Galvin, a Democrat. “The fact of the matter is the tenor has been very different this time. And that has an effect. People are interested. It’s exciting.”
Galvin said the state could see as many as 700,000 voting in tomorrow’s Republican primary, a significant number given just 468,000 people are actually registered Republicans. In Massachusetts. unenrolled — otherwise known as independent — voters can cast a ballot in the primary of any party.
If the Democratic vote is close to that of 2008 — when 1.2 million hit the polls — the state could surpass the 1.8 million that voted that year overall, setting what Galvin said he believes would be a record for a presidential primary in Massachusetts.
“The question in my mind is the Democratic turnout,” Galvin said. “The nature of the race is a little different than it was in ’08. … It’s a fact that Sen. (Bernie) Sanders has a very aggressive campaign here in Massachusetts. He spent both time and money. He has a good ground (game) from what I can see, as does Sen. (Hillary) Clinton. So that’s going to help us. But the chemistry was somewhat different than it was in ‘08.”
Galvin noted the historical context in 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama was vying to become the nation’s first black president, and running against Clinton — seeking, as she is again this year, to become the first woman to serve as president.
Turnouts have hit record levels in other primary states this year.
Galvin pointed to the shift in voters from the Democratic party as an “indicator” of turnout in the Bay State.