Candidates’ ground game seen as key to mayor’s race

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Martin J. Walsh’s supporters have sent more than 18,000 handwritten postcards to voters who have been willing to listen to his pitch, but not yet ready to commit to him for mayor.

In his quest to become Boston’s next mayor, John R. Connolly asks his volunteers to hold house parties for him, inviting 20 or 30 of their friends who are still undecided in the race. Some days, he visits three such parties. Last Saturday, he went to six.

And every night, the field director for City Councilor Rob Consalvo’s mayoral campaign analyzes data showing undecided voters as dots on a map — all part of an effort to direct his field organizers to the blocks that will be most productive.

The Sept. 24 preliminary election for mayor is expected to play out as a fierce ground war — a highly personal, all-out skirmish to claim individual voters and urge them to the polls. The candidates in the first wide-open mayor’s race in a generation are using good old-fashioned shoe leather to pursue voters, while tapping technology unimagined when the current mayor took office to identify and lock down their bases of support.

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