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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.

By E.J. Dionne  | January 17, 2010; 10:17 AM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Next: President Obama and Dr. King's dream

Comments

I believe the Masschusetts election has much, much more than local implications. I have been consistently reviewed the threads from both The Bost Herald and the Boston Globe.

What is most astonishing is the shear number of people from other states chiming in with their pleas, yes pleas, that the people of Massachusetts elect Scott Brown.

And, uncharacteristic of the Bay State folks, I have yet to see one single reply saying "Butt Out!".

No Sir, the people of Massachussets are quite cognizant of what they are about to do this Tuesday, and there is an amazing whisper of "duty to the country" that his guiding their discourse.

Posted by: crystal9154 | January 17, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

AMERICAN"S COMPLACENCY HAS CAUSED THESE PROBLEMS!!!

LEARN THE TRUTH ABOUT AMERICA!!!

www.AMERICAWAKEUPNOW.net

Posted by: AMERICAWAKEUPNOW | January 17, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Mission to Accountability to the Truth...
Truth is by hearing and hearing is by the Word of God...
Jesus Christ our Savior told us the truth.........
It is proven all mankind is vulnerable to sin and in need of a savior

Mission for good government
1- Control our borders
2 - Make Public Hearings more accessible for all Representative and Civic Groups
3- Show all citizens the history of the Constitution and its predominance to a Providence of a Sovereign God of the universe.
4- Show that the individual can lead a sovereign and accountable life through faith away from big government. Show everyone that an educated community is a strong community. That the family is the framework of a strong community. Tell people why the United States of America is the only country that has not changed hands in the last 266 years. We should show why the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has shown his Providence of this country all these years.

Posted by: rhfrost1 | January 17, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

God Bless America...........God Bless Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts 2010

Posted by: rhfrost1 | January 17, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

'The Bluest State', by Jon Keller, is still available in paperback. It gives a much fuller analysis of MA politics.

Of course, much has happened since then. The biggest thing is that Massachusetts adopted a health care bill that is similar to what is before Congress now, and the people of Massachusetts have found out what the consequences are. So maybe the local s spilling over into the national here.

Posted by: vinyl1 | January 17, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

WE THE PEOPLE must be given more credit for what is happening to these career Politicians.

You still blame Bush for this mess. WE blame the "GOVERNMENT STUPID" which is supposed to be made up of Dems and Repubs. BOTH parties are to blame. You in the media just do not get it!! You think everything is about Dems and Repubs!!

Do the math Bush left with 500 billion deficit with a Dem Congress. Now the deficit is 2 trillion!!!!

WE THE PEOPLE got "Change" alright the "Speech Giver" has shown WE THE PEOPLE that there is a very FAR LEFT oligarchy in Congress!! The change we got has been far out and open ATTACKS not just on Politicians from the other party but on AMERICAN CITEZENS!!

The "Speech Giver" is the worst of the worst. He is great at charm and sweet talk. He is also a very MEAN and unfair leader!! The speech yesterday proved once again. He made fun of Canidate Brown driving around in his truck. The fact is Brown was meeting the people of Mass. one on one and not like some Rock Star!!!

It is the middle that has awoken and now wants to be heard. Senators like Sechumer from NY and so called leaders can try to degrade them by calling them "TEABAGGERS" the fact is they are AMERICAN CITIZENS who are sick and tired of just this kind of hatefull talk and back room deals!! WE THE PEOPLE are sending a message we have had enough of DEMS and Repubs!!! They both need to come down from their power hungry platforms or we will KNOCK them down!!

Posted by: 79USMC83 | January 18, 2010 6:07 AM | Report abuse

An oligarchy (Greek Ὀλιγαρχία, Oligarkhía) (oligocracy) is a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royal, wealth, intellectual, family, military, or religious hegemony. The word oligarchy is from the Greek words for "few" (ὀλίγος olígos) and "rule" (ἀ...ρχή arkhē). Such states are often controlled by politically powerful families whose children are heavily conditioned and mentored to be heirs of the power of the oligarchy.

Sounds like the Kennedy's and alot of other Career Politicians. This is what is going on in OUR congress also. It is ALL about Dems and Repubs and not WE THE PEOPLE!!

TERM LIMITS NOW!!

FAIR TAX NOW!!

DEATH TO JIHADISTS!! NOT CIVILIAN TRIALS

Posted by: 79USMC83 | January 18, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Cockley needs to step down, Vote for Brown if you want to keep your freedom and lower taxes. This vote is not just for Massachusettes it's for the country which by the way is under attack from the far left who wants to destroy your freedom and redistibute your money to people who don't want to work for a living. Wakr up America and vote for freedom not Socialism. This country was the strongest country in the world until it was taken over by this administration. We need to bring back Capitalism and vote out this Socialist roll.

Posted by: annieandpauldonovan | January 18, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

I think the people of Massachusettes have discovered what happens when one party completely dominates all levers of government. Complete unabashed corruption. The hope is that now that their blinders have been taken off they will help all of America by voting for Scott Brown and eliminating the complete domination of the federal goverment by the Democrats and the corruption inherent in that domination.

Posted by: RobT1 | January 18, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Does your personal integrity mean so little to you? Any twist of logic to cover Obama is justified.

The election has not even happened yet, and you are already trotting out rationalizations to defend your GLORIOUS LEADER and your pet "world view."

This on the same day I learn a WASHPO publishes a story about a poll it sanctioned that, among other things, found that fully 58% of Americans favor less government and fewer services. Major headlines right? No, not even mentioned.

Back to where I started.

Does your personal integrity mean so little to you?

Posted by: Rjames2 | January 18, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Joan Venocchi's column was right on point but so was the Sunday column of another Globe regular, conservative Jeff Jacoby. He attributed the close election to voter unhappiness over President Obama's healthcare overhaul.
Both Venocchi and Jacoby fairly summed up the frustration of many voters like myself, an independent (female) and disappointed Obama suppporter, who will be heading to the polls early on Tuesday.

Posted by: pjsilva | January 18, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

rhfrost wrote "the United States of America is the only country that has not changed hands in the last 266 years."

The Members of Parliament of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) would be startled by that claim--especially when 2010 - 266 = 1744, when the future 13 original United States were still colonies of Great Britain.

Other countries have also been self-governed through the last 266 years and longer. (I include internal changes as "self-governed".) On the other hand, becoming independent of a colonial power would usually be considered a clear change in government.

Posted by: CherieOK | January 18, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

This is an astonishing column. EJ Dionne is such an utterly reliable/predictable flack for the Democratic Party that if he isn't waving his pom poms and explaining why things will turn out ok in the end (i.e., the wicked Republicans will lose), things must truly be bad for the Dems. Of course, wailing and gnashing of teeth by most of the Post's regulars will certainly commence Tuesday night, as their party preferences are, as usual, both clear and partisan.

Posted by: airish1 | January 18, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

EJ, is it possible that you've never heard that "Denial" is not only a river in Egypt??

Posted by: yourstruly1991 | January 19, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

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