The Massachusetts Primary: A 2020 Guide

Find out more about the Massachusetts Primary and the state’s role in choosing presidential nominees.
Voting in Boxborough, Massachusetts during the 2016 primaries. (Liz West from Boxborough, MA, USA/Creative Commons)

Voting in Boxborough, Massachusetts during the 2016 primaries. (Liz West from Boxborough, MA, USA/Creative Commons)

When is the Massachusetts primary?

The Massachusetts primary is Tuesday, March 3, 2020, also referred to as Super Tuesday, since 14 states will hold primaries that same day. Massachusetts also allows in-person early voting, from February 24-28. The state’s primary is held around this time each election with the occasional exception, such as the 2008 primary, which was held in early February.

How many winnable delegates does Massachusetts offer?

Democrats can win up to 114 delegates (91 pledged delegates), and Republicans award 41. Both parties award their delegates proportionally based on the vote.

Who won in 2016?

In 2016, Hillary Clinton edged out Bernie Sanders, 49.7% to 48.3%. Clinton was awarded 46 delegates, and Sanders was allotted 45. Donald Trump, with 49% of the vote, more than doubled the next three candidates combined, John Kasich (17.9%), Marco Rubio (17.7%), and Ted Cruz (9.5%). Trump earned 22 delegates, while Kasich and Rubio were awarded 8 each and Cruz obtained 4.

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How does the Massachusetts primary work?

In Massachusetts, both parties hold a semi-closed primary, meaning you have to be either a registered member of a party or an unaffiliated voter to cast a ballot in a party’s primary. Unaffiliated voters must choose one party’s primary to participate in; a person may not vote in both party’s primaries. The winner of the primary is the candidate with the greatest number of votes, even if that person does not achieve a majority of votes. No runoff process is required in Massachusetts. The delegates awarded for both Democrats and Republicans are proportional based on the percentage of votes received in the primary.

Massachusetts does not require a photo ID in order to vote and identification is rarely asked for, except in certain cases, like voting for the first time or casting a provisional vote. The state also automatically registers eligible citizens to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles or other agencies that the state determines has reliable citizenship data.

How much impact does winning Massachusetts have on the election?

Massachusetts offers 11 electoral college votes and is considered to be a reliably blue state. In a close vote, Hillary Clinton took the state by a small margin in 2016 over Donald Trump, beating him 49.7% to 49%. The state has voted for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 2000, including 2012 when Mitt Romney, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, was on the ballot. In that election, voters preferred Barack Obama who garnered over 60% of the vote.

While Massachusetts is generally considered to be a blue state, they have had a Republican governor since 2015, Charlie Baker.

Past winners of the Massachusetts primary.

Democratic

  • 2016: Hillary Clinton
  • 2012: Barack Obama
  • 2008: Hillary Clinton
  • 2004: John Kerry
  • 2000: Al Gore
  • 1996: Bill Clinton
  • 1992: Paul Tsongas
  • 1988: Michael S. Dukakis
  • 1984: Walter Mondale
  • 1980: Ted Kennedy
  • 1976: Henry M. Jackson
  • 1972: George McGovern

Republican

  • 2016: Donald Trump
  • 2012: Mitt Romney
  • 2008: Mitt Romney
  • 2004: George W. Bush
  • 2000: John McCain
  • 1996: Robert Dole
  • 1992: George H. W. Bush
  • 1988: George H. W. Bush
  • 1984: Ronald Reagan
  • 1980: George H. W. Bush
  • 1976: Gerald Ford
  • 1972: Richard Nixon

The Rantt Rundown

On March 3, 2020, Super Tuesday, Massachusetts will vote in the presidential primary. Massachusetts holds a semi-closed primary so a Republican can’t vote in the Democratic primary and vice versa. Unaffiliated voters can vote in either party’s primary, but not both. Every vote matters in Massachusetts since delegates are awarded proportionally based on total vote percentage won. In recent years, Massachusetts has made voting easier by instituting in-person early voting as well as automatic voter registration for eligible people.

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Rantt 101 // 2020 / Democratic Primary / Elections / Republican Primary