Published in the March 4, 2016 edition
MELROSE — About 55 percent of the city’s voters went to the presidential primary polls Tuesday, March 1, and supported Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Donald J. Trump by very healthy margins.
Clinton received 3,642 votes during the Democratic presidential primary, capturing 52 percent of the vote to challenger Bernie Sanders’ 3,265, or 47 percent.
Trump was a big winner in the city, as he was throughout the Commonwealth and among those states holding primaries or caucuses Tuesday. He received 47 percent of the votes cast in the Republican presidential primary in Melrose, compared with Ohio Governor John Kasich’s 22 percent, Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s 17 percent, Dr. Ben Carson’s 2 percent and Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s 8 percent.
Ben Tafoya of Reading and Kathleen Manning Hall of Malden were elected state Democratic Party Committeeman and Committeewoman for the district that covers Melrose, Malden, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield and parts of Winchester.
Melrose’s Robert Aufiero and Alice Shattuck won the races locally for state Republican Party Committeman and Committeewoman.
The Massachusetts presidential primary was a study in extremes, with Donald Trump crushing all comers on the Republican side and Hillary Clinton narrowly edging Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race.
With nearly 95 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial totals had Trump with about 49 percent of votes compared to 18 percent for John Kasich, who was just ahead of Marco Rubio, also with about 18 percent.
On the Democratic side, unofficial counts had Clinton with more than 50 percent of votes compared to more than 48 percent for Sanders, with 95 percent of precincts reporting.
For Clinton, Tuesday’s win also was a victory for the Democratic Party establishment in Massachusetts, many of whom supported her candidacy.
Trump’s landslide victory proved awkward for Republican leaders.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker had repudiated Trump, saying he doesn’t have the temperament to be president. Baker had also vowed not to vote for Trump.
Trump won the backing of Republican voters across the board in the Massachusetts primary while Democratic voters were divided, reflecting the tight contest between Clinton and Sanders, according to exit polls.
Conservatives and moderates, male and female voters, and voters among all ages and income groups broke for Trump in a big way. He also won roughly 50 percent of independent voters who cast ballots in the GOP primary.
Independents who pulled Democratic ballots tilted toward Sanders by a nearly 2-1 margin, but Clinton held the majority of voters who call themselves Democrats.
Clinton backers also cited her experience and potential to beat the Republican nominee in November.
For Republicans, Massachusetts has 42 delegates that are awarded on a proportional basis. All GOP delegates are awarded based on Tuesday’s primary tally.
For Democrats the process is a bit trickier.
Massachusetts has 116 Democratic delegates. Of those, 25 are superdelegates free to back whichever candidate they want.
At least 17 already have pledged support to Clinton and one is backing Sanders, according to an Associated Press survey. The remaining 91 delegates are awarded on a proportional basis based on Tuesday’s totals.
Early in the day, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said he had to remind the Clinton campaign about state election laws after former President Bill Clinton greeted voters at a polling location in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston around 9:35 a.m.
Clinton spoke with voters outside the polling location before heading inside with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a Hillary Clinton supporter, and again greeted voters.
State law says no one may solicit a person’s vote within 150 feet of a polling location.
Galvin said Bill Clinton also created a traffic jam outside a New Bedford polling location later in the day when he addressed voters on the street — but voters still were able to cast ballots.
Independent voter Tyler Murphy, a 26-year-old Boston resident who works as a project manager for a construction company, said he voted for Trump, calling the New York businessman the “wakeup call” the country needs.
“I think he is undeniably wrong on a lot of things,” Murphy said. “Ultimately, if we have to elect someone who is borderline crazy to get people to understand what’s going on, then that’s what we have to do.”
Vivien Gattie, 72, a registered Democrat who voted for Barack Obama in the last two presidential elections, said after voting at Boston City Hall that she reluctantly picked Clinton “because I think she can win.”
Dave Pirie, a 69-year-old retiree who cast his ballot early Tuesday afternoon in Framingham, said his decision to support Bernie Sanders came down to a single word — trust.
“I don’t trust Hillary, I don’t trust her at all,” said Pirie.
Associated Press writers Steve LeBlanc and Bob Salsberg contributed to this report.