Sunday, June 7, 2009

Massachusetts Republicans - irrelevant or ready for a comeback - Part I

Part I of this planned three-part post will examine the current state of the Massachusetts Republican Party which may soon have a DNR order if it does not show some signs of life.

Massachusetts is currently one of the bluest states in the nation (note - Jon Keller's excellent book, The Bluest State is a must read for Massachusetts political enthusiasts). The remnants of of the once-competitive state Republican Party is at a low ebb. Democrats have dominated state politics since the 1960s and increasingly so in more recent years.

Common polling questions measures political party affiliation and ideology. Below are results from the 2008 presidential election exit poll in Massachusetts and Minnesota for comparison purposes. Massachusetts is the least politically competitive state in the nation (as measured by incumbent officeholders facing challenges) whilst Minnesota is the most competitive. (Exit poll results courtesy of CNN)


By Party Identification

Democrats 40%
Independents 25%
Republicans 36%

By Ideology

Liberal 26%
Moderate 44%
Conservative 30%

Minnesota has a relatively balanced political environment and social/cultural factors that foster a sense of duty in citizens running for political office. Although one of the more educated and liberal-leaning states in the nation, Minnesota remains remarkably independent and competitive.


By Party Identification

Democrats 43%
Independents 40%
Republicans 17%

By Ideology

Liberal 32%
Moderate 46%
Conservative 21%

By Registered Voters
(Voter data is from The Secretary of the Commonwealth - October 2008)

Democrats 37%
Independents 50%
Republicans 13%

Massachusetts Officeholders
Federal Elected Offices

US Senators: Both Democrats
US House Members: 10 Democrats, no Republicans

Statewide Elected Offices

Governor: Democrat
Attorney General: Democrat
Treasurer: Democrat
Auditor: Democrat
Secretary of State: Democrat

State Legislature (just 17% of these seats were contested in 2008 - Minnesota had 100% of its legislative seats contested in 2008)

State Senate: 35 Democrats; 5 Republicans
State House of Reps: 144 Democrats; 16 Republicans

Yes, Massachusetts is indeed as one-sided as it appears!

As is clearly shown by party affiliation, ideology, and elected officeholders the Massachusetts Republican Party has a LOT of ground to make up if it is going to be even moderately competitive. 2010 may well be a year where voter frustration amid the economic crisis produce one of those rare moments where a minority party can get a second look from voters. A very similar thing happened in 1990, but the state has changed demographically and is arguably more politically liberal today than it was in 1990.

There have been a number of factors that have contributed the decline of Massachusetts Republicans and the current Democratic lock on power. More on this in the next post...

The Prof

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