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Analysis: Is Trump Giving Up On Massachusetts?

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The Donald Trump campaign recently raised a lot of eyebrows around Massachusetts by suggesting the presumptive Republican presidential nominee could put the state in play for the GOP. Since then, it’s been mostly radio silence from the Trump camp on the issue, even as Trump himself has promised to expand the map to include usually deep blue states like New York and California. Asked whether Massachusetts remains in play for Trump, several campaign officials either declined to comment or did not return phone calls or messages.

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Analysis: A Way-Too-Early Look At Marty Walsh’s Poll Numbers

With no statewide offices up for election in Massachusetts this fall, some attention is already turning to the 2017 Boston mayoral election, when Marty Walsh will stand for reelection.

People who don’t live and breathe politics (like most voters) are still a long way off from tuning in. But gossip and speculation are already heating up with still 17 months to go before Election Day. A Globe article last weekquestioned whether Walsh’s support in the black community is waning. The cancellation of yet another high-profile event (IndyCar Boston) and the high-profile indictment of Kenneth Brissette, the city’s director of tourism, sports and entertainment, are roiling the political establishment.

But whatever anxiety and interest the press and political insiders are showing, there is no evidence yet that voters are feeling anything but affection for the mayor.

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Analysis: Weld Shifts, Along With Public, On Criminal Justice

Back when he was running for Massachusetts governor in 1990, Bill Weld promised famously that, if elected, he would reintroduce prisoners to “the joys of breaking rocks.”

As governor, he followed up the tough talk by pushing for mandatory minimums for drug crimes. But judging by Weld’s remarks on the subject at an event this week, he’s had a change of heart. And that’s putting it mildly.

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Looming Question for Primary Day: What Will N.H.’s Independents Do?

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John Kasich needs New Hampshire’s undeclared voters to surge to the Republican primary. Bernie Sanders would like to see those same voters pick the Democratic race.

Recent history shows either scenario is plausible.

But ongoing upheaval in the ranks of New Hampshire’s undeclared (or “independent”) voters makes it hard to know what (if any) direction they’re moving over the long term.

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How N.H. Went from Deep Red to Swing State Over the Course of a Few Elections

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Ronald Reagan clobbered Jimmy Carter in the 1980 New Hampshire presidential election. Four years later, he did the same to Walter Mondale. So resounding were those thumpings, Carter won just two towns in the state, Mondale five.

Republican supremacy in the state did not start with Reagan, nor did it end with him. But Reagan’s two victories may represent the GOP high-water mark in New Hampshire presidential contests. The question now is: Has Republican support in the state bottomed out, or could it continue to fall in 2016? And what might Donald Trump, this year’s unconventional GOP nominee, mean for this trend?

To explore these questions, this analysis uses NHPR’s “ElectionStats” database to look at how all 244 cities and towns in New Hampshire have voted in presidential elections, going back to 1972.

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The Topline: Extreme Makeover – GOP Debate Edition

Belated happy new year, and, perhaps more importantly, happy GOP Debate night! Only seven candidates made the cut for the main stage, based on polling averages nationally and in Iowa and New Hampshire. The primetime show will feature Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Ben Carson.

Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul — two former main-stagers who had each been spared demotion by CNN at prior debates — have been dropped to the second-tier debate. Paul, for his part, has declined to participate in the undercard event.

Much ink has been spilled by pundits and pollsters alike about the wisdom (or folly) of using polling to determine debate eligibility. It does seem unfair to exclude a candidate based on what could be matter of rounding, or a handful of individual respondents in one or two polls.

So we at MPG have come up with a modest proposal that keeps all the candidates on stage but still reflects their relative positions in the polls, since that seems to be important to debate sponsors.

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Each candidate’s podium height is to scale with their average level of support in the polls. We’re not sure this arrangement would make for a more substantive discussion, but it certainly would be something to look at. And it would be just as fair as including or excluding candidates based on what may be rounding errors.

MPG ICYMI

We’ve been busy writing since our last Topline. Here’s our latest analysis for WBUR and NHPR.

In N.H. Democratic Primary, Small Towns Gain Electoral Sway
“For the past several decades, the influence of New Hampshire’s big cities has been waning in the Democratic contest, while small-and medium-sized towns have been gaining sway. These shifts are significant enough that they’re changing how Democrats campaign in the Granite State.”

“SEC Primary”? More Like March Madness
“Catchy as the name is, it’s not a good fit, for two reasons. First, it understates the considerable influence of the non-SEC states voting that same day. Second, winning the “SEC states” voting on March 1 has not meant that much during the last few nomination cycles.”

New Hampshire “Pollmageddon”? Not Yet
“The game, at this stage, is just about the same as in past years. The difference in total polls comes from the fact that pollsters started surveying New Hampshire earlier, not that they are polling any more often at this point.”

Baker’s Amazing Popularity Goes Far Beyond The Economy
“But Baker’s popularity far exceeds what would be expected based on the economy alone. Massachusetts has the 22nd lowest unemployment rate, according to the latest federal data, and for 2014 had the 15th highest GDP growth. Both of these marks are above average, but not extraordinary.”

In GOP Primary, “Insiders” Are Doing Better Than You Might Think
“After a summer when political neophytes pulled the lion’s share of support, the last few weeks of New Hampshire polling have seen a resurgence by ‘insider’ candidates.”

Luck Of The Draw: Why Ballot Order Matters
“There have been scores of academic papers about whether being the first name voters see conveys a meaningful advantage. The short answer is yes, and by enough to make a meaningful difference, or even tip the balance in a tight race.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Nerd Alert Tearline – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

NHPR Launches new elections stats database
Our partner New Hampshire Public Radio has teamed up Civera Software to make the state’s past election results available online in a searchable and downloadable format. Civera is the firm behind the Massachusetts elections database, which we have used to write many of our analytical pieces for WBUR and CommonWealth magazine. We’ve already started to mine the new website for insights, and plan on writing much more using it between now and primary day.

Correction: A previous version of this article did not include Jeb Bush in the list of candidates in the main stage debate. We apologize for the omission.

Boston City Council Election Results

Yesterday, Boston voters chose Boston city councillors in several districts as well as for at-large positions. The Boston Elections Department sent us these unofficial results in PDF form.

  1. Unofficial Results for Municipal Election: Ward and Precinct
  2. Unofficial Results for Municipal Election: By Contest

If you create any new analyses (or convert these to a better format) we hope you will share your results with us.

MPG to collaborate on WBUR Politicker

politickerWe are pleased to announce we will be collaborating with WBUR on a new project, “WBUR Politicker“. The new site will be the home of our WBUR polls and analysis. If you are old enough to remember Poll Vault, you have some idea what to expect from Politicker.

From WBUR.

WBUR Politicker will cover New England’s races the WBUR way, with deep and serious treatment of issues, sound-rich feature reports from the campaign trail, plenty of perspective and context from our signature analysts, and loads of data. Included in this vertical will be:

  1. The WBUR Poll: WBUR and The MassINC Polling Group will once again work together to bring you regular WBUR polls that will gauge the candidates and key issues.
  2. Enterprising political reports by WBUR’s radio and digital journalists.
  3. Political data journalism: MPG President Steve Koczela will serve as a regular contributor to WBUR Politicker, bringing his trademark deep dives into the data that tell the story behind the story.
  4. Weekly on-air reports and analysis of the New Hampshire primary from The Boston Globe’s James Pindell.
  5. Weekly political commentary — on air and online — from WBUR’s political duo of Republican Todd Domke and Democrat Dan Payne.
  6. Live public events, starting with the November installment of WBUR’s On Tap, which will focus on polling and the presidential campaign.

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