Bellwethers Ring Loud for Clinton


With Super Tuesday upon us, Massachusetts bellwether communities are pointing to Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney as the respective winners in Democratic and Republican primaries in Massachusetts, according to research on election eve conducted by 7NEWS/Suffolk University and released today. 

Three Massachusetts bellwethers - Waltham, Stoneham and Nahant - showed Clinton winning.  In Waltham, Clinton led Obama 46 percent-to-42 percent, and in Stoneham/Nahant Clinton led 54 percent-to-41 percent, although in the small Nahant subset Obama and Clinton were tied.

The Center’s analysis was made using a new election predictor module based on a number of statistical indices, including statewide polling and bellwether geographic areas, first employed successfully with the New Hampshire Democratic Primary and followed up with the GOP Primary in Florida.

“We’ve seen this same trend before,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.  “Our New Hampshire poll had a statistical dead heat, while both New Hampshire bellwethers, Kingston and Sandown, showed Clinton winning.  We have a similar statistical dead heat in our statewide poll, but all three bellwethers show a similar Clinton trend.  Will history repeat itself?”

The Suffolk University Political Research Center’s Massachusetts bellwethers matched the same statistical test: The last two times a non-incumbent was on a presidential preference ballot in Massachusetts, the bellwether area mirrored the exact order of finish statewide and was within 4 percent for the top three vote-getters in each party.

“A cautionary word or two: Past bellwether performance is a guide but not a 100 percent guarantee of future performance,” said Paleologos.  “In a race this close, anything can happen.  New bellwethers oftentimes are created as people migrate, depending on the election cycle, the candidates and local endorsements.”

The statewide poll ran Friday night through early morning on Super Bowl Sunday and may not have included organizational momentum gained by the Clinton forces over the past two days.

GOP predictions

In the Waltham Republican Primary poll, Mitt Romney (49 percent) led John McCain (37 percent), Mike Huckabee (4 percent) and Ron Paul (3 percent), with 7 percent undecided or refusing a response.  These findings were almost identical to the statewide Republican Primary poll, which showed Romney (50 percent), McCain (37 percent), Huckabee (4 percent) and Paul (3 percent), with 6 percent undecided/refused.

In other bellwethers, Tennessee’s Knox County showed Clinton leading Obama 52 percent-to-42 percent in the Democratic Primary, while McCain led Huckabee 46 percent-to-26 percent.

In California’s bellwether Fresno County, Clinton led Obama 50 percent-to-28 percent, while Romney led McCain 41 percent-to-26 percent, with significant numbers of voters still undecided or intended/already cast for other candidates.

On Jan. 29, 2008, the Political Research Center’s Florida bellwether, Hillsborough County, almost exactly matched the statewide Republican Primary results.  On Jan. 8, 2008, the New Hampshire Presidential Primary bellwether towns – Kingston and Sandown – predicted a Clinton win in the Democratic Primary, while no other leading indicator in the country had Clinton winning.  The bellwether analysis also was an added tool used successfully by the Center in both the 2006 Gubernatorial Democratic Primary and the General Election in Massachusetts.


7NEWS/Suffolk University interviewed 315 Democratic likely voters and 119 likely Republican voters from Waltham and 380 Democratic voters and 192 Republican voters from Nahant and Stoneham.  In addition, 1,168 likely primary voters from bellwether Knox County, Tenn., were interviewed through Feb. 1.  Finally, in California’s bellwether, Fresno County, 520 likely Democratic voters and 421 Republicans were interviewed through Feb. 1.  A random sample of all available registered voters with phone numbers was used to select the sample, which did not include newly registered voters.  The execution of the ID interviews was by live telephone call.  For more information, please contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.

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