February 6, 2008
Sen. Hillary Clinton beat out her opponent by almost 15 percentage points in a high turnout Massachusetts primary Tuesday, but four of Dorchester's five main wards voted for Sen. Barack Obama as did the city of Boston as a whole.
Click here for a PDF of the precinct-by-precinct results.
Revealing a chink in the armor of Mayor Thomas Menino's political machine, which went all out for Clinton, Obama won the city with 52 percent to Clinton's 44 percent, and the neighborhood by nearly 5,000 votes. In Mattapan, Obama won hands down by a 4-1 margin.
Clinton herself stepped onto Columbia Point on election eve to visit volunteers working the phone banks at SEIU 1999 headquarters in the Bayside Expo Center. Over 300 volunteers mobbed her for 20 minutes on Monday as she shook hands, posed for photos and signed autographs after a short speech introduced by Menino.
Obama swung in to South Boston's World Trade Center later that evening to speak to thousands in what some called a tired, hoarse voice.
In the state, thegreenpapers.com is estimating that Obama took 36 delegates out of the 93 up for grabs in the Massachusetts primary, and Clinton 52. Congressmen Michael Capuano's eighth and Stephen Lynch's ninth district both reach into Dorchester, carrying six delegates each.
Those delegates, like others in closely contested districts across the country, could be crucial in determining which candidate won the day. Obama is claiming to have taken more of them in Tuesday's super-close contest than Clinton, and NBC News was in agreement with him on Wednesday morning, predicting 840 to 849 delegates for Obama and 829 to 838 for Clinton.
Democrats across the entire country seem energized by the close contest and the opposing opinions seemed to dial down even into the smallest villages of Dorchester in the run-up to the election.
One Cape Verdean political activist told a typical tale.
"It's been a tough one because we have two really good candidates," said Tchintcia Barros. "The community just wants to wait and see. We're pretty divided between Obama and Clinton."
The city's large Haitian community appeared split as well, with local Haitian Reps. taking opposite sides, Marie St. Fleur for Clinton and Linda Dorcena Forry for Obama.
Rep. Martin Walsh and City Council President Maureen Feeney helped Mayor Thomas Menino's machine churn for Clinton, but many city workers dialing the phones and hitting the streets privately said they would vote for Obama or McCain.
"We knew we had greater odds and a tough row to hoe in Boston, but we focused on an inclusive campaign," said Menino at a Clinton celebration in Faneuil Hall's Ned Devine's Irish Pub on Tuesday night. "The governor had field organizers, the two senators, Caroline Kennedy all working against us. We had the college students and the mothers and fathers working for us."
Councillors Sam Yoon, Michael Flaherty, Stephen Murphy and Charles Yancey pulled for Obama, mostly hitting the phone banks on Tuesday, the main component of both campaigns' get-out-the-vote strategies.
But by Tuesday night, the tally told the real story: Obama took four of Dorchester's five main wards - 13, 14, 14, and 17. Mattapan - which includes some of wards 17 and 18 - delivered landslide totals for Obama, mirroring and at times surpassing totals rung up by Deval Patrick in the 2006 primary election for governor. Dorchester's ward 16, which runs roughly from Fields Corner to Cedar Grove Cemetery and over to the Neponset River, went to Clinton by a margin of about 800 votes.
Obama's highest precinct vote count, 620, came from the Sarah Greenwood Middle School, and Clinton pulled 429 votes out of Florian Hall, home precinct of the politically active seniors from the Keystone Apartments.
Other bellwethers in predominantly white sections of Neponset and Savin Hill went to Clinton, although many times by a close margin, including Savin Hill's St. William's School polling station, St. Ann School in Neponset and the National Guard Armory on Victory Road.
In districts with much higher numbers of black voters, such as the Lucy Stone School, Groveland Senior Center and the Lower Mills Library, Obama far outpaced his opponent, sometimes with a 4 to 1 margin.
"I was really happy to see he did well in Boston and did very well in Dorchester and Mattapan," said Linda Dorcena Forry. "I think in Massachusetts it was a long shot. She's had her message in Massachusetts for a long time, but to get people to vote in these numbers is a positive thing for everybody."
McCain bests Romney
Sen. John McCain eked out a win over former Gov. Mitt Romney in the neighborhood, with highlights in traditionally more conservative enclaves and a light showing from Dorchester's Vietnamese community. Although Romney won his "home" state overall, the Republican front-runner from Arizona beat the Belmont resident in overall votes across Dorchester's wards.
The biggest numbers, largely favoring McCain, came from polling stations at the St. William's School in Savin Hill and the St. Ann School and Florian Hall in the Neponset area. Vietnamese influence may have shown up at the O'Hearn School and Dorchester House.
"They like a President who fights," said Tam Nguyen, who volunteered as a translator in Ward 16 on Tuesday. "The Republicans are stronger, they fight terrorism."
"I think most Vietnamese will vote for John McCain because of his sacrifice in the Vietnam war. I also feel he understands the situation in Iraq," said Nam Pham, also from Dorchester.
But the numbers at the Viet AID community center in the heart of the Vietnamese community were very low, exemplifying a trend of low political involvement.
"We are very new," said Mai Hoa Nguyen, a community organizer at Viet-AID. "Even though we have a lot of voters, a good 40 percent are not familiar with the voting system."