How the Massachusetts election results can explain what to expect in the upcoming primaries

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at the Old South Meeting House on February 29 in Boston. —Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Massachusetts primary is now seven days in the past, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still things to be learned from either Donald Trump’s Bay State blowout or the razor-thin finish on the Democratic side. With the votes 99.95-percent counted, town-by-town results and exit polls from Massachusetts provide a glimpse on primaries Tuesday in Michigan, Mississippi, and beyond could play out.

Class really does matter — in more than one sense

The most noticeable split among Massachusetts Republican primary voters, according to exit polls, came between college graduates and non-college graduates.

Among the 800 voters that responded to a CBS News Massachusetts exit poll, Trump received 62 percent support among those with no college degree, compared to 38 percent of those with a college degree (Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio received a 14-point and 6-point boost, respectively, among voters with a college degree).


In fact, Trump’s support was inversely associated with educational attainment. Sixty percent of those with some college experience or an associate’s degree supported Trump, 44 percent of those with an undergraduate degree voted for Trump, and 25 percent of Massachusetts GOP primary voters with postgraduate studies supported the billionaire businessman.

As previously noted, the billionaire real estate developer was particularly popular among union members voting in the GOP primary, which underlines his success in blue-collar cities.

In Lowell, Trump received 59.7 percent of the vote — more than quadruple the totals of Rubio (13.7 percent) and Kasich (11.8 percent), and a 10-point swing above his statewide support. Trump also got 58.2 percent of the vote in Lawrence and 49.0 percent of the vote in Worcester.

Those demographic trends are a good sign for Trump in the sparsely-polled Mississippi. The state has the third lowest rate of bachelor’s degree attainment in the country, per the 2010 Census. Among the bottom seven for bachelor’s degree attainment are Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, and Alabama — all states Trump has already won.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Mississippi also has the highest percentage of blue-collar workers in the country.

“The bottomline is the economic message and the ‘Make America Great Again’ message is resonating with working class households,’’ David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University Political Research Center, told

Donald Trump speaks with former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown after he had endorsed him for president during a campaign event last month in Milford, New Hampshire. —Joe Raedle / Getty Images

But Trump’s support is also overwhelmingly broad

It’s not just working class voters, however, that are drawn to Trump. It’s nearly every demographic of Republican voter. Across the vast majority of towns in Massachusetts — as well as age, income, political identity, ideology, and religion — Trump won in a blowout. Not only did he win in blue-collar cities, he won in Boston, up and down the North and South shores, and throughout central and western Massachusetts.

“Those are very different socioeconomic bases, and he won everything,’’ Paleologos said.

There were some, if small, signs of promise for Massachusetts’ Republican runner-up, Kasich. The governor won a cluster of Boston suburbs, including Cambridge, Brookline, Needham, and Wellesley, as well as the college town of Amherst.

According to CBS’s exit poll, support for Kasich in Massachusetts increased with income and educational attainment — though not nearly enough to reach Trump’s levels of support, which remained unmoved regardless of level of income.

Kasich is pinning his chances on competing in Michigan, which votes Tuesday, and Ohio, which votes next Tuesday. Both those states, however, have populations with lower levels of income and college degrees than Massachusetts. At a relative demographic disadvantage, Kasich is counting on a home-field advantage to overcome the 30-point margin with which Trump took the Bay State.

Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters in Essex Junction Vermont after winning the Vermont primary on Super Tuesday. —Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Bernie Sanders continues to win rural white voters — which won’t be enough

On the Democratic side, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is strong in white, rural regions, but Hillary Clinton holds the key to the cities — and likely the Democratic primaries. Boosted by double-digit victories in the Greater Boston area, the former secretary held on to the Bay State by less than 1.5 percent of the vote.


The results map of Massachusetts provides a forecast of how the rest of the Democratic primary will likely play out.

Ironically, as The Boston Globerecently noted, Sanders — a self-described democratic socialist — lost the state like a Republican, winning in areas that are more rural, more white, and less populated.

According to CBS’s Democratic exit poll, Clinton won 59 percent to 41 percent among non-white voters.

This past weekend’s primary results reinforced that trend. Sanders handedly won in Kansas, Nebraska, and Maine, while Clinton won in a landslide in Louisiana.

The Washington Postwrote Saturday that the Democratic race is becoming “very predictable’’:

If the state is more than 10 percent black: Easy call. Hillary Clinton wins it. Under 2.5 percent black? You’re probably safe saying that Bernie Sanders will triumph.

For what it’s worth, Massachusetts — where Clinton just edged out a win — is about 7 percent black. The bad news for Sanders, especially if he can’t make significant inroads among African-Americans, is that the primary schedule is not getting easier.

Michigan and Mississippi hold their Democratic primaries Tuesday. Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio hold theirs on March 15. Not one of those states have a less-than-12-percent black population. It’s the Post’s 10-percent rule holds true, the next two weeks will be a sweep for Clinton, who already has a big delegate lead, and it likely won’t even be close.

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