3 min read

Close race between 2 top state rep candidates?

8:05 p.m. – With four candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. Chris Walsh in the 6th Middlesex but no publicly available polling data, it’s tough to know who might win or how close it will be. Count mailings you’ve received? Endorsements? Lawn signs?

We faced a similar dilemma in last year’s mayoral race, when I tried out a model based on campaign finance data that ended up working pretty well. It didn’t look at overall money raised (John Stefanini topped that category), but number of local people who contributed to each candidate.

Why that? My theory: Preliminary and primary elections are low-turnout affairs. The number of people motivated enough to contribute to a campaign might help predict the number of people engaged enough to turn out for something that’s not a general election.

Yvonne Spicer had a comfortable lead in number of Framingham-based contributors to her campaign, and it turned out to roughly mirror her final result.

So, I’m giving the model another go in the state rep race. But. a few cautions apply. In last year’s preliminary, the mayoral race was the premier spot on the ballot. In today’s primary, people may be turning out for other contested races such as governor, lieutenant governor, or secretary of state. How those voters – none of whom might have been motivated enough to contribute to a campaign – break in the 6th Middlesex may end up being decisive.

That said, if the model is predictive again – and that’s a big if – tonight should be a close race between Maria Robinson and Mike Gatlin.


Here’s a look at number of contributors to each candidate from Framingham overall, as well as the percent of contributors to each candidate. This table includes all Framingham contributors, whether or not they live in the 6th Middlesex. Note that if someone contributed multiple times to a candidate, I only counted them once.

Candidate Number Percent
Robinson, Maria D. 43 43.4
Gatlin, Michael G. 36 36.4
Feeney, Mary Kate 18 18.2
Tilden, Mark S. 2 2.0

However, not all of Framingham is in the district. I ran each contributor address through the geocod.io service to get its Massachusetts House district. The geocoding may have been inexact for a few addresses near the boundary lines, so the table below is just an estimate of number of contributors to each candidate within the 6th Middlesex:

Candidate Number Percent
Robinson, Maria D. 38 41.3
Gatlin, Michael G. 35 38.0
Feeney, Mary Kate 17 18.5
Tilden, Mark S. 2 2.2

11:36 p.m. – It appears that the model correctly picked tonight’s winner, but not the margin of victory. Framingham Source posted on Facebook that with all but one precinct reporting, Maria Robinson received 1,628 votes, followed by Mike Gatlin with 714, Mary Kate Feeney at 466 and Mark Tilden with 26. If that holds, the race will turn out to not have been as close as the number of contributors indicated.

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