Ask Me Anything Q&A #2: Mayoral Building Blocks

Our second Ask Me Anything Day question comes via email from “Clever Pseudonym Girl”:

There’s a lot of talk of the “blocks” and “constituencies” the Boston mayoral candidates will need to make it to the November election. Which are some of the most important groups of voters, and who’s going to have them locked up? Which voting blocs aren’t locked down yet and might make a difference in the primary race?

It depends how granular you want to get. For instance: there is a power-bloc of Russian Jewish votes in Brighton that every candidate in the race would love to have. I would guess that they’ll be with Mike Ross, who is vying to be the city’s first Jewish mayor. But they’re more accustomed to working with some of Menino’s people, and with Brighton state representative Mike Moran—who is backing Charlotte Golar Richie, according to Jim O’Sullivan in today’s Globe. If Ross doesn’t look viable, could Richie have a chance with them? Or, since they tend to be more conservative, perhaps Dan Conley can win

On the more macro scale, you start with some assumed geographic and demographic bases. Then, look for areas that may be up for grabs with no obvious candidate—Southie, for instance, and Charlestown, Allston-Brighton, the South End, and Chinatown. Those will be fought over. Then there are the demos that cut across geography, few of which are likely to be “locked down” by any one candidate. Perhaps Felix Arroyo will be able to dominate the Hispanic vote, and maybe Ross secures the Jewish vote. But the LGBT vote, for example, is unlikely to go in one direction—it’s simply too internally diverse. The same is true of Boston’s black voters, its Asian voters, and so on.

While I think securing large chunks of votes within those geographic and demographic bases will be key, what might be just as important is who gets locked out, rather than who can lock down. Are there candidates who will simply not get a hearing from LGBT voters? From young progressive professionals? From white Irish conservatives? From first/second generation Hispanics? From single women? From Cape Verdeans? etc. etc. etc. Getting to 25,000 (or whatever it will take to get through the preliminary) will require not just IDing a base, but avoiding getting shut out from too many others.

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