John Connolly And Marty Walsh: Here Are Your Keys to Victory

What's going to make or break the next mayor of Boston.

For John Connolly:

1. Can he maximize the vote from his base? Connolly’s West Roxbury/Roslindale base is a bigger voting bloc than Walsh’s coastal-Dorchester base, but in the preliminary, Walsh’s core came out in huge numbers (and gave him a huge percentage of their vote). Walsh’s base will presumably perform even better Tuesday, but Connolly has much more room to grow—if his base has picked up some enthusiasm.

2. Has a Walsh backlash developed, particularly among progressives? Anecdotally, I’m hearing about people who have not previously felt there was a big difference between the two candidates, but who in the past week have soured on Walsh—fairly or not—over the “dark money” outside groups, the perceived over-influence of labor, and/or the class-based insinuations. Connolly has played to that backlash, describing himself as the one who would be an “independent” mayor, and introducing the slogan “moms vs. machine.”

3. Are the pessimists wrong about turnout? Inside both campaigns, there is a general belief that the higher the total turnout, the better for Connolly. David Paleologos, of Suffolk University, used a 110,000 baseline number the other day, which would be surprisingly low and probably fatal for Connolly’s chances. He likely needs more than 125,000 to vote, and the more the better.

For Marty Walsh:

1. Is the get-out-the-vote good, or just big? There is no question that Walsh’s campaign (and groups supporting him) will have a staggering number of enthusiastic volunteers helping on Election Day, as they have for the lead-up. What we don’t know is whether they have the data and discipline to effectively pull out Walsh voters throughout the city—not just in the pro-Walsh strongholds, where every voter is a likely Walsh voter.

2. Has he closed the sale after getting the introduction? The endorsements Walsh has received have earned him a close look from a great many voters—black, Hispanic, female, progressive—who might otherwise not have taken the time to see beyond the surface. The question is how many of them he converted into supporters, and particularly supporters who see enough of a difference to bother acting on it. Of all the demographic groups this applies to, none may be more important than older women, who are likeliest to vote among the high-undecided blocs.

3. Is Boston catching Walsh fever? Often voters sense a candidate’s momentum and feel a pull to be part of it. Walsh certainly seemed like that candidate in the first half of October, but it’s these final days when it could really put him over the top.