An aura of futility surrounds the presidential primary in Massachusetts this Tuesday, March 3.
On the Democratic side, there’s a feeling that no matter who ultimately wins the primary, this bluest of states will vote for him or her over Donald Trump. This presumption is well-founded: since World War II, the only Republican presidential candidates to win in Massachusetts were Eisenhower and Reagan, and Trump isn’t nearly as popular nationally as either of them. By this way of thinking, it doesn’t really matter which candidate Massachusetts voters choose.
Also, this being Super Tuesday, with states like California and Texas in the mix, many feel that what happens here will get lost in the overall totals. That, too, is a good hunch. But there is one candidate for whom Massachusetts is especially significant: Elizabeth Warren. If the senator can’t take her home state, her campaign is probably doomed — where else can she take the lead?
There is a positive way to view the primary here: because Massachusetts is otherwise not particularly strategic, it should provide Democratic voters with a chance to focus on the candidate they personally prefer, instead of making pragmatic compromises. If you feel as if Warren is the best candidate, vote for her. If you like Pete Buttigieg best but are having doubts that he can win, vote for him anyway. Vote for Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, or Tom Steyer — not because they’re more likely to beat Trump according to some poll, but because you think they would make the best president. Now is the time to vote your conscience. You may not have another opportunity.
Among the 15 Democrats on the ballot, seven have already dropped out of the race: Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Deval Patrick, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang. To vote for any of them is pointless. Besides, Castro has endorsed Warren, and Williamson has endorsed Sanders.
On the Republican side, there’s little chance that an alternative candidate can stop Trump. But a vote for former Gov. Bill Weld will open a noteworthy crack in Trump’s wall. A vote for the other two Republicans on the ballot, Roque de la Fuente and Joe Walsh (Walsh has dropped out), would also be noteworthy, but less so locally.
Only registered Greens and Libertarians can vote for those parties’ candidates in the primary, except for independents, who are free to vote in the party primary of their choosing. That’s a nice position to be in this year, no matter what your political leanings are.
Massachusetts voters may not get the visibility that our neighbors in New Hampshire have enjoyed this primary season, but our votes still count. They always do.