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HomeNewsPolitics22% of Hop Voters are Democrats, but they Dominate Town Boards

22% of Hop Voters are Democrats, but they Dominate Town Boards

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Inspired by the citizen’s petition that would eliminate political parties in Hopkinton’s elections, the HopNews team was curious to know which political party the members of elected town boards, committees and commissions identify with. It is common knowledge that Massachusetts is a left-leaning state, and there is an axiom that to hold office one must be a registered Democrat. And while it’s true that our current Governor, all 9 of our U.S. House members, and both U.S. Senators are Democrats, there have been notable exceptions, such as former Republican Governors Charlie Baker, Mitt Romney and Bill Weld. It seems in some election years voters in the Commonwealth have been content to send Democrats to Washington, but don’t necessarily want them governing the entire state.

We wondered if this was true in Hopkinton as well.

HopNews requested from the Town Clerk a list of every registered voter in Hopkinton, which includes their date of birth, address, voting precinct, and political party, if enrolled. We then cross-referenced the voter list with every elected and appointed member of a board, committee or commission in town, which is available online, although the website omits the party affiliation of each member.

Our analysis reveals that of the 13,097 registered voters in Hopkinton, 22% are enrolled as Democrats, 12% Republicans, and 66% remain Unenrolled in any party. It is interesting that, in these polarized times, Hopkinton voters strongly choose to remain independent of either political party. This is also true on a state-wide level, and the trend has been increasing.

Despite Hopkinton voters strongly preferring independence from either political party, Democrats occupy 84% of Elected Board positions, while only 2% are Republicans and 14% are Unenrolled. The landscape is more balanced for Appointed Boards, Committees and Commissions, where Democrats hold 40% of the seats, Republicans 10% and 50% are Unenrolled or other.

Not all Elected Boards have the same level of power. The following 6 Boards have outsized influence over town operations, finances, and quality of life for residents. All members of these boards are elected, except for the Board of Appeals, whose members are appointed by the Select Board.

Boards with Power

  • Select Board – Elected – 100% of members are Democrats
  • Planning Board – Elected – 66% of members are Democrats, 0 Republicans, 33% Unenrolled
  • School Committee – Elected – 80% of members are Democrats, 0 Republicans, 20% Unenrolled
  • Board of Assessors – Elected, 100% of members are Democrats
  • Housing Authority – Elected, 100% of members are Democrats
  • Board of Appeals – Appointed, 27% of members are Democrats, 14% are Republicans, and 57% are Unenrolled

Across Elected Boards, Democrats outnumber Republicans 41-1 and Unenrolled members 41-7. The lone Republican serves on the Board of Library Trustees.

While Democrats are significantly overrepresented on Elected Boards – and thus in key town decisions – there are several possible explanations for this.

The first is that Democrats run for office more often and their races are largely uncontested. In the May 2023 election there were 11 uncontested races that seated 14 candidates (some races asked voters to choose more than one candidate). Of the 14, 78% were Democratic Caucus nominees and 0 were Republican.

Age may also be a factor. In Hopkinton, while there are more registered Democrats than Republicans, the Dems also tend to be younger. Perhaps a combination of energy and enthusiasm for their candidates powers a strong voter turnout.

It could also be that local Republicans continue to suffer from sharing the party with Donald Trump. The former president – currently indicted on 91 felony counts – remains deeply unpopular in Massachusetts. Many officeholders with a (R) next to their name on the ballot have been inextricably linked to Trump, even if they do not align with his political views. Likewise, Republican candidates for national office have struggled to articulate a coherent message of how they’re different than Trump, for fear of alienating his base of supporters, which remains strong in some parts of the country.

Another key factor may be the organized effort that the Hopkinton Democratic Town Committee puts forward each election. The HDTC has a history of actively recruiting candidates to fill vacancies and supporting them with strong marketing and a boots-on-the-ground strategy to drive turnout.

Independent or Unenrolled voters, on the other hand, do not enjoy this organized effort, despite being the majority of registered voters in Hopkinton and Massachusetts as a whole.

There is an increasing trend, both locally and nationally, for less strident citizens to shy away from elected office due to the polarizing nature of our current political climate. This unfortunately leads to extreme candidates dominating both political parties, with the majority of independent voters left unrepresented. The expression ‘Silent Majority’ is probably truer today than ever.

What is certain is that the May 2024 Town Election will be one to watch closely.


  1. Could you cite a source for your claim that “less strident citizens … shy away from elected office”? It sounds highly questionable to me, if not just pure fabrication. And please don’t reply that Democrats must be strident because Republicans are, and therefore balance requires that they be called strident.

    • Do you really need a lengthy citation, or is it just common sense that moderate people are less willing to put their hat in the ring to serve in a volunteer capacity if they worry about being attacked by “strident” adversaries? In the wake of the election scandal a few months ago, HopNews fielded several letters to the editor where in various ways the authors claimed that they would have run in previous elections but chose not to because they didn’t want to subject themselves and their families to direct attack or whisper campaigns. Reader comments across several articles confirm this.

    • On a national level, there are countless examples of moderate candidates who have lost their primaries to more strident voices. This has happened in both Democratic and Republican primaries. A recent example would be Mitt Romney, who has had the courage to call out Trump’s behavior and question his fitness for office. It is accepted in Utah that Romney has little to no chance of winning the Republican primary. In addition, both of the projected 2024 presidential candidates are deeply unpopular with the electorate, so why are they going to win their primaries? Why are we facing a Trump / Biden rematch that most people do not want to see?

      Regarding Hopkinton, there may be many reasons for the recent dominance of Democrats in key decision-making boards despite their being only 22% of registered voters. HopNews is merely speculating as to what those reasons may be. But, as stated above, there are definitely people in town who have expressed their reticence to get involved in local politics, due to the fear of getting put in the middle of a maelstrom of polarization. Unless we can figure out a way to come together in this country and respect the vast majority of voters who are in the middle of the political spectrum, we are going to continue to suffer from an environment of acrimony and division. It is not unreasonable to speculate that Hopkinton may bear some similarities to the challenges that exist on a national level.

      • The several of us working to get an article on the TM Warrant to remove partisan politics from Hopkinton would, I think, concur with “…Hopkinton may bear some similarities to the challenges that exist on a national level.” I certainly agree with that thought.

  2. Interesting article. To the point about Democrats running for office (it’s hard to elect an independent or republican if they’re not on the ballot), I’d be interested to see the election stats going back the last ten years. I’ve been in town for 13 years now and I seem to recall when I moved here there were more Rs in office (and I don’t know if the elections were as uncontested or if both sides were on the ballot).

  3. Further to this analysis, as revealing as it is, would be a similar analysis to see who participates in the Town Meeting. It would be more work, for certain, but does the makeup of Town Meeting participants correspond to the voter list of 22% Democrat, 12% Republican, 66% Unenrolled? Or maybe to the 41 Democrat, 1 Republican, 7 Unenrolled elected ‘officials’.

  4. I’d like to see what the actual voter rolls look like. Polls are nice but generally deeply flawed. Checking the actual party registration percentages is much more accurate. Biden got 70% of the presidential vote here in town in 2020 so those numbers don’t really square up. I’d love more balanced party representation in this town across the board.

  5. Tremendous insight from the Hopnews staff. Sunshine is the greatest disinfectant in any democracy. This town used to be very balanced historically. I believe it still is, but one side has been extremely aggressive to gain control of decision making, the budget and policies. When you see the results with how the downtown project has been managed and where our taxes are heading, it should be eye opening to everyone and clearly deserves scrutiny. Thank you.


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