osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

The MA Rorscharch Test

I confess I am as much a willing participant among the chattering class as any cable pundit, in rushing to say how MA confirms my theories of how elections are going to work this cycle.

Back when we had NY-29 and the VA and NJ governor races, I wrote that this election cycle was going to be all about local politics. No longer were voters looking at elections as a national referendum. Successful candidates of either party would win because they connected with voters on local issues. Candidates that tried to run on a national referendum, whether pro-Obama or anti-Obama, would fail.

While it is too early to call the MA race, I see nothing there to make me shift my analysis and join the more popular "everyone hates Democrats" mantra. I note this Globe op ed here chastising Coakley for failing to campaign among the people, while Brown did. And, as the campaign attracts more national attention and loses local focus, there appears to be a minor uptick for Coakley (or at least, the decline has leveled off). Whether that is genuinely from MA independents turned off by attention seeking conservatives like Gulliani showing up or just the fact that, as it gets down to the last few days, people are taking a hard look at both candidates, remains to be seen.

Mind, having lived in MA a good portion of my life, and seeing the election of a number of Republican governors, I never assumed the election of a D was a sure thing. Folks do not seem to understand how the last ten years have been a real aberration in MA politics, especially state-wide politics. MA has a lot of independents who used to be what were called "Rockefeller Republicans." Those who wanted sound fiscal management, small government, and strong on civil liberties. These voters register as independents and come out of the town meeting tradition were you expect to weigh candidates seriously and hear what they have to say in person. These are the voters who were quite capable of voting for Weld and Romney (when he ran as a moderate) because they emphasized sound fiscal management (which is different from populist pledges to cut all taxes all the time) and to Hell with what the Democratic leadership says. The notion that MA is lockstep Democrat no matter who is on the ticket was true once the Bush Administration tanked, but not before -- and therefore potentially not after.

For various reasons, I expect this to get lost in the narrative and for people to draw the wrong conclusions. It is much easier to pretend this is a color war and voters are sports fans than it is to imagine a world where voters actually think about and evaluate candidates in a serious way.

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