It’s primary day for MA-5! [open thread]

Today, Democratic and unenrolled voters in the Fifth District most likely choose our next Member of Congress.  Don’t forget to vote!

Still undecided?  Read Bob’s endorsement of Katherine Clark, Charley’s endorsement of Carl Sciortino, and my endorsement of Karen Spilka.  Or one of the many testimonials for Will Brownsberger and Peter Koutoujian that others have posted here over the last several weeks.  We are indeed lucky to have such high quality candidates in this race.  It’s too bad that we can only send one of them to Washington.

And tell us what you’re seeing.  How does turnout look at your polling place?  Is your candidate getting his or her base out?

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60 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. 11th voter in Waltham, proudly voted for Will Brownsberger

    Felt funny when asked which ballot I wanted, I paused for a second, then I said “Democrat….this time”. Since I was saying my name that was echoing in a gymnasium, just wanted to be perfectly clear to all whomwere looking at me (was the only voter at the time) I am truly an INDEPENDENT voter.

    I convinced 3 Romney voters in 2012 to vote for Will, since they are too unenrolled. My predictions are

    1. Brownsberger
    2. Peter K.
    3. Karen Spilka
    4. Katherine Clark
    5. Carl S.


    I copied and emailed the three BMG endorsements to my Dad and brother who both vote in the 5th CD for their consideration. They report back that they are going to be voting today for Spilka…(Dad: “She seems like the hardest worker of the bunch.”) and Sciortino (Bro: “like his ad and his spunk”)

    PS: David, you noted in your endorsement that Karen was Jewish and that mattered to you…so I wanted you to know that she got the vote of an Irish-American Roman Catholic guy…religion hasn’t been a voting issue for him since JFK…and my brother doesn’t care at all about sexual orientation as a voting factor….we have come a long way, baby!

  3. Medford W6P1

    Only three people voting shortly after 7am. Was turned off of a candidate for 3 calls in the past 24 hours + a card left on the ground outside the front door this morning. Guess they must think that will make a difference.

  4. Waltham 9-2

    At about 815 I was the only voter in the line, but there did seem to be a good pile of used “privacy folders”. I forgot to check the machine’s count, but I am guessing light turnout for this one.

    • Prediction Koutoujian

      I know it is probably influenced by my area, but I have seen plenty of signs for Peter K in the Waltham, Watertown, Lexington, Belmont area and not single one for any other candidates in that area. I have seen a smattering in other areas as I travel, but no where near the density of support I have seen in those areas. For anyone else to win they are going to have score big in other areas and I just don’t see the math of that working. Hence my prediction.

      • Signs

        Going around the area, Koutoujian definitely has the most, and often the largest signs.

        In an election like this, I think signs are probably the least effective method. They are better for things like city council races on normal election days. He has the money, though, so he probably had enough to spend it on the right things as well.

        • When signs are useful

          As far as I can tell, everyone wants to vote for his or her favorite in this election out of the perception that the candidates are fairly close ideologically. Were that not the case, people could decide to vote for a second choice if it was felt that the second choice had a better shot at winning.

          Where that occurs, I bet signs can be quite useful. If you saw few signs for your first choice and signs everywhere for your second, you might be swayed.


          There’s also an effect that marketers have learned, e.g., LinkedIn. Ads that tell us your friend Warren, your colleague Stacey, and your ex-boss Marissa are doing X and why aren’t you have proven to be effective. I don’t know the extent it works with campaign signs.

          And in reverse: A neighbor, who rarely supports candidates I vote for, planted a prominent sign in his front yard for a City Councillor I’ve always voted.

          Now I’m wondering. Should I still vote for that guy?

          • Maybe

            they’re related?

          • Useful sometimes

            Yes, signs work, but their ROI is often very low, especially in lower turnout elections with high-information voters. They are better for smaller races that larger numbers vote in but don’t do research in, like city council or school committee.

            I think the signs will definitely help, but I think that money might have been better spent elsewhere. In Koutoujian’s case, though, maybe not on TV since his ads were serious snoozers.

  5. Prediction: Spilka

    There, I wrote it down and everything.

  6. Medford 5-1

    Voter #30 at about 8:40AM. Not too bad, considering.

  7. A vote for Brownsberger in Southborough

    Voter # 27 at 9:50 AM.

  8. Seems quiet here in Belmont

    and this is Brownsberger central. Nobody else there when I voted at 9am.

    • Seems quiet here in Belmont

      Same here shortly after 9. Nobody else in the building with me. Saw a couple people coming on my way out but at least one of them was just returning library books.

      There were several people at the intersection a block away with big Brownsberger signs but no other candidate supporters around.

      • Interesting

        In my experience Belmont typically votes in the morning. And it looked like Brownsberger’s campaign was doorhanging the entire town if the roads along my commute were representative.

        My polling place in Watertown was also quiet this morning, but Watertown tends to vote more heavily after work.

  9. It'll be too close for comfort

    Clark 24%
    Sciortino 22%
    Peter K 20%
    Spilka 18%
    Brownsberger 16%

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the order flipped around for my top 3, I don’t see Spilka or Brownsberger getting more support out of there districts. Carl, Clark and Peter K had the most ads and mailings. Clark has the broadest support outside her district. This is how I think it’ll go down,
    Not my personal ranking.

  10. Lexington

    Voter #145 in Pct.8 at 11:30am

  11. Medford 6-1

    I was #285 at 1:30 pm. No line, but a fairly steady trickle of voters. No sign-holders outside the polling place.

    • Door-knocking for Koutoujian

      Strong support in his Waltham base but turnout is light. My prediction:

      1 & 1A – Koutoujian and Clark (ok, it’s a copout but I really am having a hard time calling this one)
      3. Spilka
      4 Carl
      5. Brownsberger

      • What about the unions?

        Striker: Spilka was endorsed by 30-something local unions, do you think that will help her beyond the checks the union leaders may have donated? Seems the unions have a lot on the line for Spilka…

        • That seems to me

          the big wild card in this race. She has a huge list of union backers, but not as much cash as the other candidates. But, in a low turnout primary, if the unions go all-in for her it could really help her.

          • Several Significant Unions With Clark

            From Clark’s website:

            IAFF Melrose Local 1617 Executive Board, APWU Local 100, IBEW Local 2222, IBEW Local 2321, the United Steelworkers Union Local 12012, Ironworkers Local 7, NAGE/IBPO/SEIU Local 5000, Teamsters Local 25, and the IBEW Local 123

            Senator Clark’s endorsements include Unions that have very active political operations. Their impact improves Clark’s chances in a low turnout election.

            I don’t disagree that Spilka is helped by her Union support, I just don’t believe that individual union support is as effective as a coordinated union operation. Nor that Senator Spilka the “union” candidate in the race.

        • Unions Split

          Individual union support may mean financial resources and some boots on the ground however, without an AFL-CIO endorsement there is no coordinated Labor operation. Several large unions went with Senator Clark, Sheriff Koutoujian has union support (including my union), and the Mass AFL-CIO voted not to endorse in this primary – all that limits how effective Labor can be in this election.

          Organized Labor does not have a candidate in this primary, individual unions do. For me that means unions collectively don’t have a lot on the line when it comes to Senator Spilka candidacy and finish in this race.

          I do believe that Senator Spilka will benefit in the field because of the individual union endorsements however, the edge she gains is far less than if she had an AFL-CIO endorsement.

          Four of the five leading Dems have strong records on workers issues and would be solid votes for working women and men in Congress.

          • Whose the odd man out?

            If Brownsberger I am (genuinely) curious as to your logic.

            • Collective Bargaining

              Senator Brownsberger actively advocated for the stripping of collective bargaining rights over health care for municipal and state agency unions in the transportation reform bill. Addressing raising health care costs by denying one party the ability to negotiate doesn’t solve a problem.

              Senator Brownsberger also voted to strip not only teachers but other school employees, right down to the custodial staff, of basic bargaining rights in the so-called ed reform bill.

              While other candidates in this race have mixed records on both pieces of legislation, none took the active and vocal role Will Brownsberger did to take fundamental and hard won bargaining rights away from women and men employed in the public sector.

              I find Senator Brownsberger to be a very smart man with whom I disagree on a very fundamental issue for workers. I don’t trust him to stand up to the far right and the Tea Party when it comes to assaults on public or private sector workers rights.

              That makes him my odd man out in this race.

              • Oh I get it, Brownsberger sided with the taxpayers over GREED

                No wonder I like him.

                So what happened striker, didn’t Deval and DeLeo pass h/c reform requiring savings equal to or greater than if the joined the GIC? Sure, the retirees at the MBTA fought for their Cadillac health benefits, but guess what, the MBTA is broke, $8 billion in the red. Those bennies can’t be sustained, just ask your brothers in Detroit.

              • Thanks

                That is certainly disappointing. I might be willing to agree with Brownsberger that we need to contain costs, but that is definitely not the way to do it. Work with the unions and hammer out a new agreement. Thanks for the info, and I always appreciate your perspective.

  12. Police Place Police....Totally Unncessary

    When I voted, I looked for the policeman. He was sitting in a chair, playing a computer game. The presence of the policeman really makes me mad.

    Here’s something most people don’t know: Approximately half of the cost of running an election is for the mandatory police detail. So, in order to same money, many towns stuff as many precincts as possible in the same location. That causes longer travel times and lower turnout. For regular elections, it also causes lines.

    So, why ido we have a mandatory police detail at every election at every polling location? Well, it’s the ridiculous rule that is established by our Secretary of State, Bill Galvin. There is no reason for the police to be required at every election, but Galvin requires them. I suspect he gets contributions.

    • I think the police are necessary at schools

      Too many young kids around with strange adults walking in and out. I was glad to see them at my polling place.

      • Maybe

        For some locations, it might make sense to have police present. It doesn’t make sense to always require them for every location for every election. It’s expensive, and it harms the election process. It’s one of the major reasons why town’s try to concentrate multiple precincts in a single location.

        • Not necessary ... until there is a problem

          The police aren’t necessary for an election like this one when things are pretty peaceful. But if there was a big crisis at the time of an election they might be very important. It is a wise practice.

    • Wrong . . .

      It sure sounds nice to blame Bill Galvin for the police requirement at polling places, but, in fact, that is the stat law, MGL c. 54, section 72: “The board or officer in charge of the police force of each city and town shall detail a sufficient number of police officers or constables for each building that contains the polling place for one or more precincts at every election therein to preserve order and to protect the election officers and supervisors from any interference with their duties and to aid in enforcing the laws relating to elections.”

      Having worked on voter protection issues in several elections, I have mixed feelings about the police requirement, but please don’t blame someone like Bill Galvin for something for which he is not responsible. We should be better than than.

      • It's Galvin

        He has opposed many election reforms. If Galvin wanted this law changed, it would be changed.

        • Seriously?

          When was the last time that anyone submitted a bill to eliminate this provision of the law? So Bill Galvin can just snap his fingers and the Legislature will act, even if no one has been concerned enough to file such a bill? Methinks someone needs to take a basic civics class.

          There are so many more important reform issues — early voting, pre-registration for young people, online voter regisatration, post-election audits — many of which are mainly opposed not by Bill Galvin but by city and town clerks who have to run our elections.

          And what happens when the Tea Party crazies show up at some polling place without a police presence and start terrorizing voters, probably at urban polling locations where there are many minority and limited English speaking voters? It has happened — Worcester, New Bedford, Southbridge. Better to have police there to protect voters’ right to vote than to have the Tea Partiers violate our fellow citizens’ right to vote.

          • we have phones

            The police could be called to any polling location in the state within minutes. It’s a absurd waste of resources to have one sitting at every single polling location for every election.

            • I like having the cop at my polling place

              I have a kid in the school and I don’t want anyone even accidentally walking from the polling location into the rest of the building. I’d feel the same even if I didn’t have a child there. Prevention vs. waiting for the police to show up when there is a problem…

              • understand what your saying

                But, since they stay in the polling location (gym, classroom) they would have no idea if a voter started wandering around the rest school, accidentally or otherwise, unless someone came and told them. I supposed they would be a deterrent to someone with ill intentions, but that would be true any day.

                • I don't think that's the key issue.

                  Given how hot politics is these days. I think a police presence is a very good idea.

                  • these days?

                    Not sure what you mean by that as it pertains to elections in Massachusetts. I take it there are periods in history where you agree it would not be a good idea to have the police sitting around reading in thousands of polling locations all day long?

                    • We've seen plenty of passion here.

                      Given the rhetoric we have heard lately and how some might take it I don’t want to take any chances.

                    • Lately? Some?

                      Please be specific. I don’t know what you mean- Ted Cruz is not going to bust into a polling place in Arlington or Watertown and start causing trouble. But, every cop sitting in one of their 21 and 12 polling places, respectively, is not doing the job elsewhere. Which means we’re “taking chances” everywhere that is not covered. And, of course, they can be called in minutes as needed or just be there if it there is any actual indication trouble is brewing.

                      As a general matter, there is way more passion at the site of any youth sporting event than inside of a polling place. Which, more often than not, is an atmosphere conducive to taking a nap…something I have seen done.

  13. Looking slow

    In Lexington, Woburn and Winchester.

    ~10% at 3pm count (1,395) Winchester. No signs/stand outs visible.

  14. Waltham 8/2

    #228 at 5:15 p.m. Couple of other voters present; overheard the poll worker say she was almost out of Democratic ballots.

  15. The Boston Globe . . .


    Poitico has a banner on its front page for the primary results to be updated live. does not have anything mentioning there is a race. They do have stories about Tom Hanks recreating the dance from Big and a brawl during a women’s hockey game right at the top, though.

    They have been asleep during this entire campaign, which is a huge disservice to the district. And then when they do something (endorse) they totally botch it by giving the wrong reasons to support a candidate (or believing a lie from a candidate, which I don’t think is the case).

    This paper is an embarrassment.

  16. Ballot position

    Not sure if this is global (it probably isn’t), but my ballot was alphabetical, so that helps Brownserger (a little) and hurts Spilka (a little).

  17. Very funny post!

    With 70 minutes til the polls close, I can only add to all of the great posts, debates, disagreements and discoveries that I hope we send our best to DC. God knows we need it.

    In my dream world we will send the person who will become a new leader and voice for our delegation to be rejuvenated and inspired. S/he will become a skilled and principled legislator who will grow the pride and confidence we have in our point person, US Senator Elizabeth Warren.

    S/he will raise the restore the faith of the people in Massachusetts in our institutions and democracy. We have survived tyranny from without, now we have to quell and heal the tyranny from within that would have us divide as a nation. We are going through the pains of democracy fighting to grow-up after a period of immense material and technological growth without commensurate emotional, spiritual and psychological maturity.

    The world has changed. Americans have changed. Going forward is the only viable option.

  18. Prediction

    No clue.

  19. prediction

    Koutoujain will win, but Brownsberger will do better than folks here seem to think he will.

    • Maybe on the former, agreed on the latter

      My predictions had the worst performer within eight points of the leader. This will be an election served well by IRV, particularly because the field was so good. Ditto the Mayoral preliminary.

      • Completely agree on IRV

        This election would be a great application for IRV because there are a lot of candidates with small differences. Though in a way a different voting system is much less needed here than e.g. in presidential elections because the candidates are all good instead of the frontrunners being mediocre to horrible with the good candidates having “no chance of winning.”

      • IRV

        Was actually talking about that someone today, so true.

        It is a tough one to predict, I just think Koutoujian’s many years on the ballot, multiple offices, and the large Armenian population (probably the largest concentration of any congressional district save maybe one or two) will carry the day for him. And, it should be noted that those who predict candidate A or B to win are barely making a prediction better than a coin toss- that’s 40% of the field!

  20. everyone do your predictions!

    Here is a wild guess… a Clark victory… then her seat will be up for grabs and who will have the inside track?
    Clark – 23%
    Koutoujian – 20%
    Scortino – 19%
    Spilka – 18%
    Brownsberger – 14%

  21. Is there a link to track results


  22. Results from Stoneham

    Just under 2,000 voters

    Clark, over 55% of the vote & 1,000 votes
    Koutoujian & Stoneham resident Maisano about 15%
    Sciortino 9%
    Spilka & Brownsberger each got a couple dozen votes
    Long almost got shut-out

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