Massachusetts as Test Market

The recent attacks by the Obama campaign have a familiar theme — turn your opponent’s strengths into a weakness. Mitt Romney has run on his private sector acumen with Bain Consulting and Bain Capital (and journalists should know the difference), but the Obama camp has started to attack the details of his tenure (or alleged tenure) at Bain Capital. Leaving the substance of the charges aside, this strategy has a striking similarity to the 2010 gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts.

In that campaign, Governor Deval Patrick, advised by many of the same advisers as Obama, was taking on Charlie Baker, whose narrative included themes of public and private sector experience. The Patrick campaign raised allegations about Baker’s competence in both public and private spheres. In each case, the substance may have been up for questioning, but the act of creating doubt served the campaign’s purpose.

The campaigns of both men have overlapped both in advisers and, occasionally, in rhetoric. And it appears the result is that Massachusetts served as a test market for national campaign strategy.