Meet the Genius Who Won the Primary Prediction Contest

Kevin Gilnack is the smartest person in Massachusetts politics.

We received 270 entries for our primary prediction contest, in which people tried to match the correct order, in votes received, of all 11 Democratic candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer.

The winner, scoring 70 of a possible 110 points, was Kevin Gilnack, political director for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. For his ballot, Gilnack wins some bragging rights. Two entrants, John Murphy and Jeff Semon, each got 69 points for very honorable mentions.

Wondering how he did it—and what this super smart person thinks will happen next—I asked him a few questions via email. Here are portions of the exchange. For more wisdom, follow Kevin on Twitter.

Bernstein: How does it feel to officially be the smartest person in Massachusetts politics?

Gilnack: It’s a relief to finally confirm what we already knew! But all kidding aside, I can think of no higher honor than to be officially named the smartest person in Massachusetts politics by David Bernstein—at least for today.

How did you go about making your picks?

To make my predictions, I considered which offices I thought would get the most votes cast, how those votes would break down among the candidates based on where they stood in the polls, and where we might get some surprises in terms of GOTV [get-out-the-vote] and enthusiasm.

One key to your success appears to have been correctly predicting—a week before the election!the correct order of finish within each of the four races. The only ones you got wrong were Leland Cheung and Mike Lake finishing second and third. How confident were you in picking the down-ballot races, like Maura Healey over Warren Tolman, and Deb Goldberg over Barry Finegold?

What can I say, it’s the year of the woman. I felt the most confident about my pick for Attorney General. Maura Healey proved she is a stellar candidate, and she along with [campaign manager] Mike Firestone and the rest of her team built an incredible campaign, [although] I was initially skeptical of how playing up her history as a basketball player would work. While polls showed Barry Finegold with a slight lead over Deb Goldberg, 60 percent were still undecided and I was fairly confident that women voters would put her over the finish line. The Lieutenant Governor race was definitely the hardest to call. In hindsight, I wish I’d known that Massachusetts voters have a history of voting for LG without knowing anything about the candidates, and that (presumably) the Globe endorsement would serve Cheung so well.

Who do you predict will win the Charlie Baker vs. Martha Coakley election?

The gubernatorial race is going to be incredibly close, but Martha Coakley will win it as long as activists and volunteers step up between now and November 4.