Massachusetts' love/hate relationship with Democrats
At the risk of flacking for the Boston Globe – a newspaper, I confess, that I dearly love, and not just for its Red Sox coverage – I’d like to share one other insight from a Globe columnist.
This morning, Joan Vennochi makes an essential point: There is a long history of Massachusetts voters getting fed up with the dominance of Democrats in the state legislature and of sending a message of protest by voting for Republicans at the top of the ballot. This year, that disaffection is compounded by the unpopularity of Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick. (By the way, if you thought that Massachusetts votes only for Democrats, consider that Patrick -- elected in 2006 -- was the first Democrat to win a governor’s race since 1986.)
Here’s the core of Vennochi’s argument:
It’s no coincidence that one of [Republican Scott] Brown’s political ads includes a shot of [Democrat Martha] Coakley seated next to two highly unpopular Democrats: Governor Deval Patrick and ex-Speaker of the House Salvatore F. DiMasi.
Patrick, the Bay State’s first Democratic governor in 16 years, has a favorability rating of 39 percent, according to a recent Globe poll. Voter disappointment runs deep with his inability to deliver on assorted gauzy promises.
And DiMasi, who resigned the speakership last year, faces trial on federal corruption charges.
Linking them to Coakley is a reprise of the strategy used by Mitt Romney in the 2002 governor’s race. The Republican gubernatorial candidate ran against what he dubbed “the gang of three’’ - Democratic challenger Shannon O’Brien and the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate.
To Brown’s further advantage, Patrick’s disappointing performance and DiMasi’s legal problems are just the tip of Beacon Hill’s troubled Democratic iceberg.
Vennocchi draws the first sentence of her column from one of the Bay State’s greats, former House Speaker Tip O’Neill: “All politics is still local.”
Now, any liberal who points to local factors in explaining Brown’s rise will be accused of trying to divert attention from the national implications of the Massachusetts race. And it’s true that that if Brown wins – and, by the way, that’s still far from a certainty – President Obama’s sympathizers will point to arguments such as Vennochi’s (and to the failures of Democrat Martha Coakley as a campaigner) to explain the result.
But the important local factors of the sort Vennochi underscores shouldn't be overlooked in the effort to draw grand lessons about what this race means for the future of Obama, liberalism and our republic itself. Election results rarely have a single explanation. Yes, if Obama still had a 70 percent approval rating, Coakley probably wouldn't be in trouble. But if Democrats in Massachusetts were in a better position with voters, she would be doing better, too. Coakley faces a double-whammy, and it’s helpful that Vennochi has pointed to the aspect of her troubles that outsiders are most likely to ignore.
| January 17, 2010; 10:17 AM ET
Categories: Dionne | Tags: E.J. Dionne
Save & Share: Previous: The Mass. Senate race: a smart view from the ground
Next: President Obama and Dr. King's dream
Posted by: crystal9154 | January 17, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AMERICAWAKEUPNOW | January 17, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rhfrost1 | January 17, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rhfrost1 | January 17, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: vinyl1 | January 17, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 79USMC83 | January 18, 2010 6:07 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: 79USMC83 | January 18, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: annieandpauldonovan | January 18, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: RobT1 | January 18, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Rjames2 | January 18, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: pjsilva | January 18, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: CherieOK | January 18, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: airish1 | January 18, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: yourstruly1991 | January 19, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.