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Dionne: Massachusetts' love/hate relationship with Democrats

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cali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 04:44 PM
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Dionne: Massachusetts' love/hate relationship with Democrats

At the risk of flacking for the Boston Globe a newspaper, I confess, that I dearly love, and not just for its Red Sox coverage Id like to share one other insight from a Globe columnist.

This morning, Joan Vennochi makes an essential point: There is a long history of Massachusetts voters getting fed up with the dominance of Democrats in the state legislature and of sending a message of protest by voting for Republicans at the top of the ballot. This year, that disaffection is compounded by the unpopularity of Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick. (By the way, if you thought that Massachusetts votes only for Democrats, consider that Patrick -- elected in 2006 -- was the first Democrat to win a governors race since 1986.)

Heres the core of Vennochis argument:

Its no coincidence that one of Browns political ads includes a shot of Coakley seated next to two highly unpopular Democrats: Governor Deval Patrick and ex-Speaker of the House Salvatore F. DiMasi.


Now, any liberal who points to local factors in explaining Browns rise will be accused of trying to divert attention from the national implications of the Massachusetts race. And its true that that if Brown wins and, by the way, thats still far from a certainty President Obamas sympathizers will point to arguments such as Vennochis (and to the failures of Democrat Martha Coakley as a campaigner) to explain the result.

But the important local factors of the sort Vennochi underscores shouldn't be overlooked in the effort to draw grand lessons about what this race means for the future of Obama, liberalism and our republic itself. Election results rarely have a single explanation. Yes, if Obama still had a 70 percent approval rating, Coakley probably wouldn't be in trouble. But if Democrats in Massachusetts were in a better position with voters, she would be doing better, too. Coakley faces a double-whammy, and its helpful that Vennochi has pointed to the aspect of her troubles that outsiders are most likely to ignore.
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