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Massachusetts Voters Will Head To Polls on Tuesday. Here’s What Experts Are Saying.

Joe Biden speaks at Harvard College's Class of 2017 Commencement. Massachusetts voters are set to head to the polls on Tuesday along with 16 other states and territories holding presidential primary elections on what is known as Super Tuesday.
Joe Biden speaks at Harvard College's Class of 2017 Commencement. Massachusetts voters are set to head to the polls on Tuesday along with 16 other states and territories holding presidential primary elections on what is known as Super Tuesday. By Lauren A. Sierra
By Aisling A. McLaughlin and Madeline E. Proctor, Crimson Staff Writers

Massachusetts voters are set to head to the polls on Tuesday along with 16 other states and territories holding presidential primary elections on what is known as Super Tuesday.

Some experts pointed to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley challenging former U.S. President Donald Trump in the Republican primary as the race to watch, while others expressed disappointment at the lack of a competitive primary.

Massachusetts has nearly 5 million registered voters. About 1.3 million are Democrats, 415,000 are Republicans, and 3.2 million are unaffiliated. This high number of independent voters could be crucial in Massachusetts, which is an open primary that doesn’t require voters to be affiliated with either party to vote in a primary.

Former Boston City Council President Lawrence S. DiCara ’71 commented on trends with independent voters in Massachusetts.

“A lot of them are centrist people, a lot of them are educated people. Very few of them are Trump people,” he said.

DiCara foresees these independent voters casting a vote for Haley on Super Tuesday, especially in educated upper-middle class areas.

“I think, given that everybody assumes Biden will win the primary, a bunch of unenrolled people will hold their nose, take a Republican ballot, and vote for Nikki Haley,” he said.

David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, said that Massachusetts should be “fertile ground for a Nikki Haley win” due to the high proportion of independents to Republicans in the state.

“But the polling doesn’t show it,” he added.

A February Suffolk University poll shows Trump leading Haley 55 percent to 38 percent. The poll also shows U.S. President Joe Biden leading the Democratic primary with over 70 percent of the vote.

Whereas the Democratic primary allocates delegates proportional to votes, the Massachusetts Republican primary allows a candidate to win all 40 delegates if they capture 50 percent or more of the votes.

Paleologos said Haley capturing the delegates in Massachusetts may be unlikely, despite the commonwealth’s many independent voters, as left-leaning independents might be deterred from voting for a Republican candidate.

According to Harvard Republican Club President Michael Oved ’25, the group will not endorse a candidate until the general election.

He emphasized the group’s focus on maintaining “neutrality towards varying perspectives and opinions within the Republican party.”

“We acknowledge now that being Republican, especially now, means different things to different people. It’s important for us — as a big tent organization — to properly represent everyone and not to alienate anyone,” he said.

Oved also said Tuesday’s primary could potentially be decisive for Haley.

“If Nikki Haley gains momentum and begins a winning streak starting on Super Tuesday, she might be able to clinch the nomination. Now, the polls demonstrate that that is unlikely,” Oved said.

Oved added, “But the thing with politics is that you never know. It truly is unpredictable.”

Paleologos said, in order for Haley to stand a chance in the upcoming primary, she must campaign effectively for the independent vote – like she did in New Hampshire.

“If they don’t have an efficient operation that will deliver targeted results, then Trump may end up prevailing, like the polling shows in Massachusetts,” he added.

If Trump continues outperforming Haley on Super Tuesday, as he did in Haley’s home state of South Carolina, the race for president will likely be set as a rematch between Trump and Biden.

Paleologos said “the primary system is flawed” when incumbents are running.

“The primary system does not allow for consistent exchange of ideas. It only allows for exchange of ideas when there are no incumbents,” he said.

“The party system – the way it’s designed – it favors incumbents so much because that’s where the money interests are. That’s where the field operation is already in existence. All of the organizational infrastructure favors incumbents,” he added.

Paleologos said that despite the fact that Haley is staying in the race does not automatically make the primary competitive.

“Just because a candidate stays in on the Republican side doesn’t mean it’s a competitive primary,” he said.

“That’s not offering a choice to Biden or Trump. It’s challenging in a Republican primary where the deck is stacked against her because Republicans aren’t voting for her by 40 points,” he added.

According to Paleologos, Trump and Biden do not appeal to youth on college campuses.

“They have very little to connect with both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” he said. “So you don’t have this groundswell of activism on college campuses for a particular candidate.”

“I feel bad for the younger generation because they are not experiencing what a good, healthy primary system is designed to do,” he added.

– Staff writer Aisling A. McLaughlin can be reached at aisling.mclaughlin@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @aislingamcl.

—Staff writer Madeline E. Proctor can be reached at maddie.proctor@thecrimson.com.

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