Why No One's Voting in Massachusetts' Special Election

Massachusetts' special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by President Obama's appointment of John Kerry to Secretary of State is taking place this Tuesday, with Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) facing off against Republican Gabriel Gomez.

And hardly anyone is voting.

State officials predict a record low turnout rate of 37 percent. Rep. Markey's campaign (worried that Democratic voters won't be motivated to vote given his 10-point lead in the most recent poll) has even resorted to pointing to internal Republican polling data suggesting the race might be tighter than it seems. If you can't beat 'em, trick 'em.

So, why are the polling numbers so low? Here are a couple theories:

  1. There's a lot going on in Massachusetts, and it's distracting voters. "With many people focused on the Bruins playing in the Stanley Cup Final, the Bulger trial, and the end of the school year, the special election has a lot of competition for attention," Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said last week. Not to mention the horrific Boston Marathon bombings back in April.
  2. The weather. It's really hot in Boston today, which is unusual weather for a Massachusetts election, given they usually happen in frigid November. There is simply too much ice cream to eat.
  3. Election fatigue. People in the state may just be tired of elections after last year's presidential election, and the intense Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown.
  4. Massachusetts elected officials themselves are a buzzkill. “It’s kind of an underwhelming election,” William F. Galvin, the Massachusetts secretary of state, said in a recent interview.