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Michael Graham: Will 2014 Be the GOP Year in MA?

Monday, November 04, 2013

 

Michael Graham

It's a perfect political storm: President Obama's popularity is down, voters are angry over his unpopular health care law, and Republicans are energized and excited about voting. Just the conditions a minority party like the Massachusetts GOP needs to pick up a governorship and send a couple of Republicans to Congress.

Only one problem. I'm not writing about 2014. I'm writing about 2010. And while the Republican tide swept over nearly the entire country, it stopped dead at the border of Massachusetts.
Voters re-elected Gov. Patrick and sent every member of Congress back to DC. The Republican candidate for state auditor--and actual auditor--lost to a woman with zero experience who had been caught cheating on her taxes just weeks before the election.

Will 2014 be different?

Massachusetts Republicans say "yes," but when you ask for specific numbers or trends, the response tends to be a general mumbling and shifting of feet.
Well, I’ve looked at the numbers and they’re not bad. They’re awful.

Out of 4.3 million registered voters in Massachusetts, about 480,000 are Republicans. Just over 1 in 10. On the other hand, there are 1.6 million registered Democrats.
Put another way, if every single Republican in the state shows up and votes for Charlie Baker a year from now, and two out of three Democrats stay home to watch the "West Wing" marathon on MSNBC, the election would be a tie.

Republican Party activists like chairwoman Kirsten Hughes point out that the largest group of voters aren’t members of either party. There are 2.2 million are “unenrolled” voters in Massachusetts and they could vote GOP any time they wanted.

Unfortunately, they rarely do.

“To be a Republican in Massachusetts, you need a lot of perseverance, intestinal fortitude, and optimism,” former GOP state senator and likely congressional candidate Rich Tisei told the Boston Globe earlier this year. “Every now and again, we do have a good election cycle. It’s been a while since we have.”

Talk about understatement…

Since the year 2000, there have been 99 statewide (governor, attorney general, etc) and federal (Congress and POTUS) elections in Massachusetts. How many did the Republicans win?
Three. The Massachusetts GOP is 3-for-99 this century. Mitt Romney and Kerry Healy in 2002, and Scott Brown in the special election of 2010.
The good news is that it's likely the GOP can't sink any lower. 

The bad news is that there is no indication that the party will do any better. 

The one place where the GOP has shown some growth is in the state House of Representatives, where exceptional candidates like Ryan Fattman, Shaunna O'Connell and Leah Cole have been able to unseat Democrat incumbents or win overwhelmingly Democratic districts. 

It's possible that 2014 could see another GOP growth spurt in the lower chamber of the legislature--but what Republicans want is a big win. Governor Charlie Baker, or a Republican member of Congress.
What are the odds? Not great, apparently.

Former statewide officer holder and Congressional candidate Joe Malone has announced he's leaving the party for dead. He's changed his registration to unenrolled and is backing an independent candidate, venture capitalist Jeff McCormick, for governor.

GOP consultant Todd Domke has given up the party, too. “If we’re going to have real competition for office in this state, we probably need more independent candidates," Domke has said.
If they get any traction for McCormick, he could play the role Tim Cahill did in 2010, dividing the anti-Democratic vote and all but ensuring a GOP defeat.

Scott Brown Factor...Not

And what about the Mass GOP’s super-star, Scott Brown?

He’s just started a political action committee…in New Hampshire.

In other words, if the GOP's fortunes are on the upswing, potential candidates seem unaware of the fact. Republicans are pleased that Charlie Baker has clear sailing to the GOP nomination for governor, while Democrats like Treasurer Steve Grossman and Attorney General Martha Coakley have to fight for their place on the ticket in a primary.

But how is the fact that the state GOP doesn't have a single other credible candidate for governor good news? 

Will a bloody primary leave the Democratic nominee battered and their party divided? Will that create an opportunity for a smart, likeable candidate like Baker to win a Scott-Brown-style upset? The odds aren’t great, but sure--it could happen.

Let’s say that it does, how will that have improved the fortunes of the Massachusetts GOP? It will still be a tiny, minority party where every election win is a "stunning upset," where Democrats control the entire Congressional delegation and 90 percent of state government.

Until Massachusetts Republicans invest time and money changing the perception of the party’s brand itself, until they can convince, say, 2 in 10 registered voters to publicly call themselves "Republicans," the fortunes of the party in 2014 are about the same as they were in 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, etc, etc.

Lousy.

 

 

Listen to Michael Graham, Noon-3pm on AM 830 WCRN and at www.MichaelGraham.com


 

 

Related Slideshow: New England Communities With the Most Political Clout 2013

The Sunlight Foundation, in conjunction with Azavea, released data maps this week showing political contribution dollars to federal elections dating back to 1990 -- by county.

GoLocal takes a look at the counties in New England that had the highest per-capita contributions in the 2012 election cycle -- and talked with experts about what that meant for those areas in New Engand, as well as the candidates.  

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25. Merrimack County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.86

Total contributions: $1,447,713

Merrimack County is named after the Merrimack River and is home to the states capital, Concord. Merrimack County has a total area of 956 square miles and a population of 146,761.

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24. Cheshire County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.88

Total contributions: $759,209

Cheshire is one of the five original counties in New Hampshire and was founded in 1771. The highest point in Cheshire County is located at the top of Mount Monadnock, which was made famous by the poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

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23. Rockingham County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.96

Total contributions: $2,965,530

Rockingham has 37 communities and has a population of 297,820. Rockingham County also was home to the famous poet, Robert Frost

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22. Belknap County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.02

Total contributions: $604,512

Belknap County is one of the ten counties in New Hampshire and has a population of 60,327. It is located in the center of New Hampshire and the largest city is Laconia.

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21. Hampshire County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.41

Total contributions: $1,664,077

Hampshire County has a total area of 545 square miles and is located in the middle of Massachusetts. Hampshire County is also the only county to be surrounded in all directions by other Massachusetts counties.

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20. Barnstable County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.90

Total contributions: $2,348,541

Barnstable County was founded in 1685 and has three national protected areas. Cape Cod National Seashore is the most famous protected area within Barnstable County and brings in a high amount of tourists every year.

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19. Berkshire County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $12.49

Total contributions: $1,624,400

Berkshire County is located on the western side of Massachusetts and borders three different neighboring states. Originally the Mahican Native American Tribe inhabited Berkshire County up until the English settlers arrived and bought the land in 1724. 

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18. Essex County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.22

Total contributions: $9,991,201

Essex is located in the northeastern part of Massachusetts and contains towns such as Salem, Lynn, and Andover. Essex was founded in 1643 and because of Essex historical background, the whole county has been designated as the Essex National Heritage Area.

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17. Chittendon County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.86

Total contributions: $2,196,107

Chittenden has a population of 158,504, making it Vermont’s most populated county. Chittenden’s largest city is Burlington, which has about one third of Vermont’s total population.

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16. Lamoille County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $14.82

Total contributions: $369,854

Lamoille County was founded in 1835 and has a population of 24,958. The county has 464 square miles, of which 461 of them are land.

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15. Addison County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $15.49

Total contributions: $569,299

Located on the west side of Vermont, Addison County has a total area of 808 square miles. Addison's largest town is Middlebury, where the Community College of Vermont and Middlebury College are located.

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14. Newport County, RI

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $16.02

Total contributions: $1,214,26

Newport County is one of the five Rhode Island Counties and was founded in 1703. Just like Connecticut, none of Rhode Island counties have an any governmental functions.

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13. Cumberland County, ME

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $18.33

Total contributions: $5,205,507

Cumberland County has a population of 283,921 and is Maine’s most populated county. The county was named after the William, Duke of Cumberland, a son of King George II.

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12. Windsor County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.57

Total contributions: $1,156,149

Windsor County is the largest county in Vermont and consists of 971 square miles of land and 5 square miles of water.

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11. Bristol County, RI

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.91

Total contributions: $1,027,472

Bristol County has a population of 49,144 and is the third smallest county in the United States. Bristol County was originally apart of Massachusetts, but was transferred to Rhode Island in 1746.

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10. Grafton County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012 :$20.95

Total contributions: $1,868,739

With a population of 89,181, Grafton County is the second largest county in New Hampshire. Home of New Hampshire’s only national forest, White Mountain National Forest takes up about half of Grafton’s total area 

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9. Carrol County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: 2012: $22.81

Total contributions: $1,012,10

Created in 1840, Carroll County has a population of 47,567. Carroll County was also named after Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the United States Declaration of Independence.

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8. LItchfield County, CT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $22.86

Total contributions: $4,286,143

Although it is Connecticut’s largest county, Litchfield has the lowest population density in all of Connecticut. Since 1960 all Connecticut counties have no county government.

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7. Middlesex County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $32.81

Total contributions: $50,432,154

Middlesex County has a population of 1,503,085 and has been ranked as the most populous county in New England.  The county government was abolished in 1997, but the county boundaries still exists for court jurisdictions and other administrative purposes.

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6. Nantucket County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $33.41

Total contributions: $344,021

Nantucket County consists of a couple of small islands and is a major tourist destination in Massachusetts. Normally Nantucket has a population of 10,298, but during the summer months the population can reach up to 50,000.

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5. Norfolk County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $35.87

Total contributions: $24,459,854

Named after a county from England, Norfolk County is the wealthiest county in Massachusetts. As of 2011, Norfolk was ranked the 32nd highest income county in the United States. 

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4. Dukes County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $36.32

Total contributions: $618,960

Consisting of Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands, Dukes County is one of Massachusetts’ top vacation spots. Originally Dukes County was apart New York, however it was transferred to Massachusetts on October 7, 1691.

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3. Suffolk County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $40.73

Total contributions: $30,323,537

Suffolk County has a population of 744,426 and contains Massachusetts’s largest city, Boston. Although Suffolk’s county government was abolished in the late 1900’s, it still remains as a geographic area.

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2. Knox County, ME

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $45.89

Total contributions: $1,820,410

Knox County was established on April 1st, 1860 and was named after American Revolutionary War General Henry Knox.  The county has a population of 39,668 and is the home of the Union Fair.

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1. Fairfield County, CT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $55.65.  

Total contributions: $51,970,701 

In a population of 933,835, Fairfield County is the most densely populated county in Connecticut, and contains four of the state's largest cities -- Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk and Danbury.

 
 

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