Energizing voters who aren’t historically known for high turnout in elections, Democrat Ayanna Pressley upset 10-term U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano in a primary election that’s garnered international attention, and positioned herself to make history as the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.
Pressley won in Massachusetts’ seventh congressional district, the only one in the state that’s comprised of majority nonwhite constituents. As of Wednesday, she was running unopposed for the seat in November.
“She won by cultivating a constituency that was looking for new leadership and new leaders,” said Northeastern political science professor Costas Panagopoulos. “What’s more, she energized the kinds of voters—minorities and young people—who don’t typically vote in large numbers, and the outcome shows us they did.”
On the issues, Pressley’s platform wasn’t much different from her opponent’s. It was her campaign style and her grassroots strategy that won the day, said Thomas Vicino, who chairs Northeastern’s Department of Political Science.