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Mass Decision 2010: Voter Expectations of Deval Patrick

by Talia Whyte

Supporters of Gov. Deval Patrick and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray gathered at the Park Plaza Hotel Nov. 2 to see if their candidates made it first to the finish line. Most of the people I spoke to at the beginning of the night were skeptical about who was going to win because the race between Patrick and Baker was too close to call in the last few days. Many people in the room were actually shocked when the first precinct results showed that not only was Patrick leading in large margins, but virtually all the Massachusetts Democratic candidates were winning their races.

This was going against the trend in other states, as Republicans recaptured the House of Representatives and six governorships. The following day, many pundits were wondering why the Republican wave didn’t come to the Bay State, despite of the so-called “Scott Brown Revolution” earlier this year. Well, it looks like that revolution began and ended in January, and Brown might actually be vulnerable in the next election cycle. The only thing that did come out of the special election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy was that Massachusetts Democrats didn’t want to be taken for granted and came out in force to the polls this time around.

Based on my own coverage of the gubernatorial campaign the last two months, I can see the obvious problems with the Baker campaign that may have contributed to his ultimate downfall. For one, up until a few weeks ago, voters still didn’t know who Baker was, as his name recognition and political positions were still vague. Also, his seemingly lack of outreach to minorities and low income communities was noted by pundits. Although he had openly gay Richard Tisei as his running mate, the Baker campaign’s reach into diverse communities seemed unsatisfactory. It is becoming increasingly difficult today to run for office in Massachusetts and the base of supporters a candidate is talking to all look the same.

These are lessons candidates from all parties should pay attention to more closely.