Election Briefs

High Turnout Reported

By Mark Zastrow and Lauren Hinkel
BU News Service

High early voter turnout suggests today’s mayoral race could break the national trend of low turnout in off-year elections. As of 6 p.m., voter turnout had climbed to 31  percentBoston.com reported. That’s already more than the total turnout for September’s preliminary election of 30 percent.

Local elections that occur in off-year races (years that don’t feature national elections) tend to have low turnout. New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary in September had a turnout of 17%, despite the massive attention showered upon the race from the national media. Los Angeles officials began discussions about ways to increase participation after only 21% of registered voters bothered to show up for their mayoral election in March of this year.

Today is Boston’s first open mayoral election since Thomas Menino took office in 1993. Chicago faced a similar voter turnout situation in 2011 at 42.3%, when mayoral incumbent, Richard Daley, did not seek a seventh term. In 2011, Chicago saw nearly 600,000 votes cast, among roughly 1.4 million eligible voters. By contrast, Boston in 2013 has 372,000 registered voters.

Even if today’s turnout reaches 40 percent, that’s still far less than Boston’s turnout in 2012’s presidential election – more than 65 percent.

Around the Nation

By Claire Giangravé and Nicolette Overton
BU News Service

The Boston mayoral race has captivated the city, but it is hardly the only hotly contested race in the nation. Other races from New York to Alabama stand to reshape American politics.

Boston is holding the first mayoral election in nearly two decades. Mayor Menino is not running for reelection. John Connolly, 40, and Marty Walsh, 46, both Democrats, have made education their main issue. Connolly has led in recent polls, but Walsh has gathered last minute support from labor groups and minority voters.

In New Jersey’s gubernatorial election, the majority party candidates are the Republican Chris Christie, 51, and the Democrat Barbara Buono, 60. Buono focused on economic issues during the election to gather support, but Christie is better known and popular among voters.

The Virginia gubernatorial race features two candidates, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, 56, and Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, 45. The Democrat is favored in polls, a significant change from the 2009 race. Cuccinelli is 14 points behind McAuliffe with female voters. McAuliffe leads 84-3 with black voters.

In Alabama’s first Congressional District race both candidates are Republicans. Bradley Byrne, the 58-year-old former head of the state’s community college system, has better fundraising and is a favorite of the GOP. The Tea Party favorite is Dean Young, 49, who was 3 points ahead of his contender in recent polls. The race has become a standoff between the Tea Party and more mainstream Republicans. The latter has invested heavily in Byrne.

In New York, Republican Joseph Lotha, 59, is squaring off against heavily favored Democrat Bill de Blasio, 52. If he wins, de Blasio would be the first Democratic mayor in New York since 1994.

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