Q&A #8 -- More At-Large Stuff

"El Che" asks:

So if that's still the top four for the at-large race, who's your dark horse? And what do they need (aside from a strong GOTV effort) to come from behind?

For those who missed the earlier question, I stuck with my prediction of Connolly-Pressley-Murphy-Ezedi for the final winners of the four at-large Boston City Council seats.

Felix Arroyo has an excellent chance of winning, but I wouldn't call him a dark horse. Andrew Kenneally is running a terrific campaign, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him win, but I'm not sure the numbers will add up for him in the end. My 'dark horse' is Tito Jackson, although I'm keeping a close eye on Tomas Gonzalez too.

To be honest, I think any of the eight candidates I've mentioned could win a spot, and I think any one of them (including the incumbents) could lose. I don't see any sure things among them either way. I also think there are others who could knock one of those eight out in the prelim, although at this point it's hard to see any of them winning a seat in the end.

I think that the prelim top four will likely be Murphy-Connolly-Pressley-Arroyo. Those will be no surprise -- so the 'news' of the prelim will be one or two others who do better than expected; they will get a burst of attention, as Sam Yoon did when he did well in the 2005 prelim.

Those in the 'next four' in the prelim will be looking for one of the 'top four' to knock out. The incumbents will probably look too strong, and nobody's going to want to target the only woman. That means they'll go after Arroyo.

Also, you have to think about where the "lost votes" will go. That is, a lot of people will cast votes for candidates who don't get through the prelim. When they come to vote in the final, who will they use those votes on? My theory is that those voters will have already chosen whether or not to vote for the better-known candidates (ie, the prelim "top four"), and will disproportionately go to candidates earning a first look by virtue of getting through the primary.

To take advantage, a candidate will need to do well in the prelim and be well-organized to quickly capitalize on that, by attracting media, money, and volunteers.

There are other variables as well, including the turnout for the final -- which depends on which mayoral challenger gets through, and how close that race appears -- and the possibility of candidates forming slates.

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