What The MA Primaries Mean

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So--anyone out there wildly surprised by yesterday's Massachusetts primaries?

Me either. I thought Jeff Perry would beat Joe Malone in the 10th Congressional GOP race--just not as easily as he did. I also expected Bill Keating to get the Democratic nod in that district over Rob O'Leary, especially after he chased down a thief right before the election. Suzanne Bump's win in the Democratic treasurer's primary might have been mildly unexpected--but Guy Glodis made enough embarrassing mistakes that I'm not surprised voters took a pass on his candidacy.

But even if Massachusetts didn't provide much electoral drama, we did offer a test case in whether anti-Washington sentiment can fuel Democrats as well as Republicans. And the answer seems to be: not really.

In the 9th Congressional district, Mac D'Alessandro ran against incumbent Congressman Steve Lynch from the left. He hit Lynch for opposing healthcare reform and backing the war in Afghanistan. D'Alessandro acquitted himself well and made his opponent sweat during a couple debates. And the end result? Lynch coasted, 66 percent to 34 percent.

Contrast that to Perry's big win in the 10th Congressional GOP primary. Joe Malone, Perry's main opponent, wasn't exactly an incumbent--but he's a former statewide office-holder and member of the Mass. GOP establishment. This bona fides didn't help Malone, and may actually have hurt him, as Perry won by a margin of more than 2 to 1 (!).

Generalizing on the basis of two races is risky, I know. But it's always struck me as a reach to suggest that the national mood is simply anti-incumbent--as opposed to anti-incumbent from the right. And based on what happened yesterday--here, and also in Delaware and New York and New Hampshire--I'm pretty sure it's the latter. 

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