Juliette Kayyem Did Not Vote in a Couple of Elections

Is this a big deal or no big deal?

Periodically I like to ask, concerning an issue hitting a candidate: How big a deal should this be for voters? Putting aside my political analysis of whether it will hurt the candidate at the polls, is it something that voters should reasonably hold against the candidate—and if so, how much?

Today I ask about the Globe‘s discovery that gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem did not vote in a couple of very important recent Massachusetts elections: Scott Brown vs. Martha Coakley for US Senate, January 2010; and Charlie Baker vs. Deval Patrick for Governor, November 2010.

My initial reaction was that this could be a legitimate issue—not huge, but meaningful in assessing Kayyem. The results of those elections were likely to have very big effects on real policy going forward, with a lot at stake for people of the Commonwealth. If she couldn’t be bothered to participate in those choices, it might suggest a certain dilettantish nature to her sudden political enthusiasm.

But it seems to me there’s not much here to suggest that; she seems to have been a regular voter for years, who chose not to vote in Massachusetts while living and claiming residence in Washington, D.C., during the time she worked for the Obama administration.

I will say, though, that I was put off by the apparent fumbling of the question. The campaign told the Globe that Kayyem’s recollection was that she registered to vote in Washington; that turned out to be untrue. A minor flub, perhaps, but suggesting that she and her team might not have the basic communications competence to get easily-verifiable facts straight before answering questions about something potentially controversial.

So, I’m a little concerned about that, but I think overall I would rate this as a minor deal, at best.

But the idea of Big Deal Or No Big Deal is to find out what you think. So please leave comments and let me know!