Boston Mayoral Race Relies on Turnout

Get-out-the-vote operations — GOTV, or “go-tee-vee,” in political shorthand — have defined winning campaigns in Massachusetts in recent years.
September 24, 2013
 

There have been grand pronouncements about the need for a city governed more transparently, bold promises about remaking public education, and more pedestrian debates over how many Hubway bike stations belong in neighborhoods.

But the broad-brush policy proposals that marked the first six months of the Boston mayor’s race give way Tuesday to the most prosaic of traditions: some way, any way, of getting voters to the polls for the preliminary election.

There is more on the line than the usual bragging rights. The winner of the Nov. 5 final election will not only assume the mantle of mayor, but will also be able to quickly appoint the new leaders of the school and police departments. Those choices can reshape much of city life.

Get-out-the-vote operations — GOTV, or “go-tee-vee,” in political shorthand — have defined winning campaigns in Massachusetts in recent years. They have become points of pride for many of this year’s mayoral campaigns, which have inherited operatives from earlier statewide races.

“It’s absolutely make-or-break,” said Matt Patton, campaign manager for John F. Barros. “If you want to win this thing, you need to go out and get more voters, and get your voters. If you’re just relying on super-voters, people who always vote in municipal elections, I don’t think you have a chance to win this thing at all.”

Political veterans say effective Election Day mobilization can be worth 3 percentage points. In a 12-way race with candidates polling within points of one another, their respective efforts on Tuesday could prove decisive.

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