Berkshire County voters aren't likely to go for Trump

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If the past is any indication, should Donald Trump be elected president in November, it won't be because of Massachusetts voters.

Since 1972, Massachusetts has only voted in favor of Republican Party presidential candidates twice, and one of those instances was decided by a razor-thin margin, according to historical voting data from the Secretary of State's office.

What were those contests? In 1980, Ronald Reagan claimed electoral victory in Massachusetts by a margin of fewer than 4,300 votes over President Jimmy Carter's re-election bid. In the 1984 contest in Massachusetts, the gap between Reagan and his democratic challenger, Walter Mondale, was larger: The GOP ticket grabbed about 71,300 more votes than his democratic opponent.

Otherwise, Massachusetts has consistently supported the democratic presidential candidate, including in 1972 when it was the only state to give South Dakota Sen. George McGovern a victory against President Richard Nixon in his re-election bid. (For the record, Washington, D.C., also voted in favor of McGovern in that election.)

Bay State voters chose McGovern by a margin of 54.2 percent to 45.2 percent over Nixon, a margin of 220,462 votes.

Nixon was forced to resign less than two years later amid the scandal borne from the bungled burglary and attempted bugging of telephones at the Democratic National Committee office in June 1972.

But who are Massachusetts voters backing this time?

On the democrats' side, Hillary Clinton won the Massachusetts primary over Bernie Sanders, 50 percent to 48.5 percent of 1,220,296 votes cast or a margin of victory of only about 17,000 votes.

Trump carried about 49 percent of the Massachusetts primary votes against a dozen other candidates in a then-crowded field.

But the total amount of GOP votes was only about a quarter of those cast in the democratic primary at 312,425.

Trump won the nod handily, garnering almost three times as many votes as his two closest rivals, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, each of whom pulled in about 18 percent.

Despite a strong showing in some states, Trump will likely still have difficulty making significant inroads with Massachusetts voters and Berkshire County voters in particular, based on the data.

Percentage-wise, GOP representation in the Berkshires has dropped each presidential election cycle since at least 2004.

At that point, Berkshire County had 86,625 registered voters, about 12 percent of which were registered as Republicans.

In 2016, the total number of registered voters rose slightly to 86,719, but GOP registration dropped down to about 8.8 percent during the same period.

That makes only two other counties in the commonwealth — Hampshire and Suffolk — with lower GOP registration than Berkshire County with 8.5 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively.

Democratic Party voter numbers rose in Berkshire County during the same time period, from about 34.7 percent in 2004, to 36.75 percent this year.

The largest Massachusetts voting block by far, however, are unenrolled, or independent, voters who currently make up more than 2.2 million of all registered voters in the state, or 53.3 percent.

The proportion of unenrolled voters in Berkshire County aligns with the statewide tally, at about 53.6 percent.

Unenrolled voters in Massachusetts may vote in either party's primary and can cast a vote for either candidate in the general election.

What potential impact factors like vice presidential picks, endorsements and any number of potential scandals dogging both candidates will have on the elections and Massachusetts votes remains to be seen.

Some clarity may come following the parties' respective upcoming conventions.

The GOP is expected to make Trump its nominee during its convention in Cleveland beginning Monday.

One week later, the Democratic National Convention will formally proclaim Clinton its candidate in Philadelphia.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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