There’s Little Hope for Republican Gains in Massachusetts
National pundits predict that the 2014 mid-term elections will go well for Republicans, but Massachusetts political insiders expect any such shift to mostly miss this state, yet again.
The opportunity seems to be there. Vacancies are providing winnable opportunities for offices at all levels. President Barack Obama’s once-soaring popularity here has dropped sharply. Outgoing Governor Deval Patrick is beset by horror stories. The upcoming patronage-related trial of former Probation chief John O’Brien threatens to embarrass Beacon Hill Democrats.
Nevertheless, the insiders I polled—across the state and political spectrum—see a state GOP with a weak bench of candidates, a paper-thin infrastructure, and internal conflicts. They fully expect the party to find its way to failure.
They’re not alone in that assessment. On Monday, we polled bostonmagazine.com readers on the same questions, and got very similar predictions from them.
The Insiders Poll results below are based on 73 returned polls. Identities of many of the participating insiders are listed at the bottom.
Three of the five directly elected statewide constitutional offices are open—Governor, Treasurer, and Attorney General—but very few insiders foresee Republicans winning any but the top spot. They remain split on whether Charlie Baker will pull off the win for Governor, as they were when I polled them on it in November.
Readers see things almost exactly the same way. Nearly half (47 percent) say Republicans will remain without a single statewide officeholder, and another 41 percent say they will win just one of the five. Only 12 percent say more than one.
As with the statewide offices, this really comes down to one question: will Richard Tisei beat John Tierney (or Tierney’s primary challenger, Seth Moulton) in his second attempt? Although some insiders say that mid-term turnout should help Tisei, compared with the 2012 Barack Obama/Elizabeth Warren Democratic surge, slightly more suspect that Tierney will be tougher to beat as memories of his wife and in-laws’ legal troubles recede. A few also predict the defeat of William Keating, most likely to Republican John Chapman.
Again, readers are very much in sync with the insiders on this question. Slightly more than half (53 percent) say no congressional seats for the GOP, 40 percent say one, and seven percent say more than one.
Opportunities abound for Republicans to add to their meager four seats. Vacancies being left by Stephen Brewer, Gale Candaras, Barry Finegold, and Therese Murray—and even Katherine Clark—are all in theoretically competitive districts. Yet at this point the insiders expect Democrats to hold all but Murray’s, where Republican Vinnie deMacedo is thought to have an edge. Quite a few, however, predict that Sutton state representative Ryan Fattman will unseat Richard Moore of Uxbridge.
If anything, readers are even more pessimistic about Republicans’ chances in the state senate than the insiders, with fewer than a third predicting the party will gain more than one seat. Another 31 percent say they’ll gain one seat (to 5), 28 percent say they’ll remain at four seats, and 13 percent say they’ll actually lose seats in the senate.
Even these well-connected insiders admit that they are mostly guessing at the results of 160 house races, eight months out. It’s still telling that they expect only minor gains for the GOP—not quite reaching the party’s recent high of 33 seats in the chamber, attained after the 2010 elections.
A little more than half of readers say the GOP will gain seats, but as with the insiders, few predict those gains will amount to much. A full 43 percent say the party will end up with 29 or fewer, and another 43 percent say 30 to 34.
Finally, I asked the insiders to name one Massachusetts Republican who will have a breakout year in 2014. By far the most common response was Baker. Votes for Tisei, deMacedo, and Lieutenant Governor candidate Karyn Polito are not surprising. Taking second place over those three, however, is Fattman, who at age 29 could have a huge future ahead if these insiders are right.
Readers, given the insiders’ top five picks, were fairly evenly split among Baker (30 percent), Tisei (25 percent), and deMacedo (22 percent), with Fattman (13 percent) and Polito (9 percent) trailing.
Participating Insiders include (affiliations for identification only): Jim Aloisi, Trimount Consulting; Jason Aluia, Mass. Association of Health Plans; Brent Andersen, GOP state committee; Matt Barron, MLB Research Associates; David Begelfer, NAIOP Mass.; Gus Bickford, Factotum Productions; Alexander Bok, Boston Baseball Field of Dreams; Beth Boland, Foley & Lardner; Ian Bowles, Windsail Capital; Gregory Casey, former Scott Brown staff; Nick Clemons, office of Congressman Joe Kennedy; Shawn Collins, office of state senator Richard Moore; Brian Corr, Cambridge Consulting Services; Stephen Crawford, Crawford Strategies; George Cronin, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications; Shawn Duhamel, Old Colony Group; Nancy Dwight, Dwight Partners; Dee Dee Edmondson, Edmondson Strategies; Scott Ferson, Liberty Square Group; Mike Festa, AARP Massachusetts; Charles Glick, Charles Consulting Group; Michael Goldman, Goldman Associates; Alex Goldstein, Northwind Strategies; Abbie Goodman, The Engineering Center; Alexander Gray; Rob Gray, Gray Media Group; David Guarino, Melwood Global; Lee Harrison, Democratic State Committee; David Howard, DH Consulting Group; Richard Howe, Middlesex North Register of Deeds; Dominick Ianno, Pfizer; Philip Johnston, Philip W. Johnston Associates; Chris Keohan, CK Strategies; Liam Kerr, DFER Mass.; Christina Knowles, Mass. Caucus of Women Legislators; Scott Lang, Lang, Xifaras & Bullard; Matt LeBretton, New Balance; Jay Livingstone, state representative; Richard Lord Associated Industries of Massachusetts; Bill Manzi, Methuen town manager; David Martin Chick Montana Group; Ann Murphy, O’Neill and Associates; Matt O’Malley, Boston City Councilor; P.J. O’Sullivan; O’Sullivan & Associates; Matt O’Malley, Boston City Councilor; Jon Patsavos, EdgeRock Technology Partners; Lora Pellegrini, Massachusetts Association of Health Plans; Tim Schofield, Schofield & Campbell; Stephen Silveira, ML Strategies; Helene Solomon, Solomon McCown & Company; Jon Tapper, Melwood Global; Charlie Ticotsky, Metropolitan Area Planning Council; Paul Trane, Telecom Insight Group; Meredith Warren, Lyric Consulting; Alice Wolf, former state representative; Brad Wyatt Boylston School Board; Conor Yunits, Liberty Square Group; Scott Zoback, office of Congressman Jim McGovern; and others who requested anonymity.