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What Does The Preliminary Election Mean?

ELECTION ANALYSIS  – City-Wide And Ward Two Results Diverge

By William Legault


How do you break down the results of an election?

There are professionals out there who get paid good money to analyze voting patterns and results.  I am surely no professional at this, but will make a run at it just for the sake of conversation.

The first thing to consider is the turnout.  As has become normal, the Salem electorate remains apathetic during preliminary elections, especially if there is no mayoral contest.  The turnout was around 12% of the roughy 26,000 registered voters in the City.  That is actually higher than in years past.  In 2011 the preliminary election drew 8% to the polls.

If you look strictly at the city wide results, the emergence of Domingo Dominguez to lead the ticket, and the placing of Councillor at-Large incumbents Arthur Sargent, Elaine Milo, and Jerry Ryan in the second, third, and fourth positions would indicate that the old guard on the council, with the exception of Tom Furey are poised to hold onto their seats.  The presence of Dominguez would seem an outlier here, but he is a long term political presence in Salem and does appeal to those who wish to remove particular personalities (Eppley) from the council.


Over the last few election cycles the at-Large races have become unpredictable. The 2011 preliminary election again comes into play here.  In that election incumbent Steven Pinto finished a very strong second and many forecast that he would be a power on the council for years to come. When the general election rolled around Pinto finished a disappointing sixth and was out.  Two years ago Jerry Ryan led the ticket after being the odd man out in the 2013 race.  In 2013 Elaine Milo emerged as a newcomer to lead the ticket but did not repeat that success in 2015 when only a few hundred votes separated second place from fifth (I remember this quite clearly).

In looking at this election you must take a good look at the Ward 2 results.  The turnout was very strong with 1,158 voter casting their ballots.  Those votes represent just about 37% of all ballots cast in the city. In this race the newcomer, and more progressive candidate won in a runaway.  Just as importantly the top at-Large finishers were Dominguez and Bradt in a tie, followed by Eppley and Cohen.  This result, with the exception of Dominguez is the opposite of the city-wide results.

What does all this mean? It means very simply that nothing at all was settled by the preliminary election except that three candidates were eliminated.

Every candidate across the board, including Kim Driscoll and Paul Prevey, must work hard for the next seven weeks to earn the votes of those Salemites who will care enough to pull a ballot.

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