Thursday, August 27, 2015

Massachusetts: A Pretty Red State, Indeed

In a previous post, I wrote about the ruby red tinge taking over central Massachusetts.

Another Boston Globe writer, Evan Horowitz,  had gone a step further a few days after Election Day 2014, and suggested:

If Martha Coakley ran for governor of western Massachusetts, she’d have won in a landslide. For his part, Charlie Baker would have had a much easier path to victory were he campaigning to be governor of central Massachusetts or the South Shore.

Central Massachusetts, including Worcester. Please, do not tell me that Baker was not aware of the strong groundswell of support he would find in Central Mass. He picked Karilyn Polito as a running mate, did he not?

Massachusetts has a reputation as a very blue state, but geographically it breaks down into some very distinct regions, with differing political preferences and voting patterns.

Election 2004 (Kerry stomped Bush)
The same is true for Pennsylvania, which Democratic strategist James Carville once called a state with two blue ends -- Pittsburgh and Philadelphia-- with a big swath of Alabama in between.
In this week’s election, there were just two big swatches of blue: one in the far west and another pushing northwest from Boston. Beyond that, Massachusetts looked like a pretty deep red.

The maps offered in the Boston Globe interactive do not factor the large population centers and the number of votes per county. No doubt, Boston is going to be blue compared to the redder sections of the state's northern and southern shores. How deep that blueness goes toward effecting the final voter tally does not always come through so clearly.

Was it different in 2010?

Although the 2010 gubernatorial election was won by a Democrat, Deval Patrick, the election map actually looked quite similar to this week’s [Election 2014 results] . Patrick captured a slightly broader area around cities like Boston and New Bedford, but otherwise much of the state was still painted red.

I would further submit that in 2010, Tea Party politics was just making its face known, even in Massachusetts, and the need to organize and fundraise effectively was just beginning. Keep in mind also that "Mr. Governor" Patrick was the incumbent, and they are in general harder to remove from office. The larger swaths of Massachusetts turned out red probably in response to the Democratic Party's harder left-wing edge, which family-oriented blue collar Democrats did not like. The Boston elitist epicenter is turning off the suburbanites, many of whom moved away from Big City Democratic machine chicanery.

Besides, men and women can only stand so much taxation and expenditures without serious representation. The defeat of the computer cloud tax followed by initiatives to end the forever gas tax tapped into the "Taxed Enough Already!" spirit already ready to burst all out, even in Massachusetts.

Horowitz also looked at the lay of the Bay state after the 2012 elections, which surprised everyone, including the Democrats who feared the fallout from Obamacare and Obama's other careless policy ventures.

What about 2012?

Presidential elections are a totally different animal, partly because they attract more voters and partly because Republican candidates are drawn further right by their need to win over conservatives across the south and west of the United States.

This analysis is sound,  but let us not forget that President Obama was a superior campaign organizer. "Organizing for Action", anyone? Conservative activists have documented the Obama machine's remarkable efforts to target swing voters on key issues, let's call it "microtargeting". The databases and formidable campaign work ethic of the progressive, Saul Alinksy juggernaut overwhelmed otherwise Republican enclaves in 2008, and a number of them still had not prepared in 2012.

During his 2012 reelection campaign, President Obama won an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts cities and towns. He carried such a large radius around Boston that it covered up most of central Massachusetts, and he made a similarly strong showing on and near the Cape.
Yet, even with all that extra blue territory, the basic regional pattern still held. Towns in central and southeastern Massachusetts remained less Democrat-friendly than those in Western Massachusetts and those just northwest of Boston (witness the lighter blues).

Horowitz' map contained the wide patch of red in Central Massachusetts, except for Worcester proper. This outcome is not that surprising. Swing districts in Southern California, and some reliably Republican assembly seats suddenly turned blue in 2012 because of Obama's superior efforts.

Republicans learned their lesson in 2013, beefed up their fundraising, technology, and resource outreach. Plus the cascade of scandals from the White House and Democrats across the country (four state senators were arrested, indicted, and/or convicted of felonies. The mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina went to jail. The state assembly speakers of New York and Rhode Island stepped down for corruption charges, too.

And of course -- come 2014, the six-year itch inevitably took its toll, and Republicans found their numbers masssively increased across the country, plus three Republican governors in Democratic states: Illinois, Maryland, and of course Massachusetts.

Massachusetts: A Pretty Red State After All?

Was it always this way?

Figuring out how and when this political pattern took shape is no simple feat. Among other things, it’s likely related to changes in the economies of different areas. But it also touches on questions about why adjacent towns should have such different leanings. Why is Newton so much more liberal than Weston? Why do rural towns in the center of the state vote so differently than those to the West?
I’ll be looking at these questions more deeply in a future piece, but for now, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts (particularly if you find yourself living on one of those political boundaries.)

Conservatives across the country have pointed out one of the deepest flaws of the Left: they overreach, they push for too much too fast. In the case of President Obama and the diminished Democratic Party left in the wake of his forceful yet foul policies, the negative consequences of unfettered liberalism have sobered up otherwise faithful Democratic partisans to rethink and vote Republican.

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