Markey v. Gomez: The Massachusetts Senate Race

With a few days left to go, this race is officially a snoozer.  Ed Markey is a fine Representative and will make a fine Senator but somehow I can’t work up any enthusiasm.  You know, if you read this blog with any regularity, that I am a campaigner and it is a measure of something that I haven’t done much of anything for Ed except throw him a few bucks and vote in the primary where he was unopposed.  I think the race would have been a lot more exciting if someone like Mike Capuano were running, but too late for that.  Maybe we should just feel sorry for these guys since after the Elizabeth Warren – Scott Brown tussle almost anything would seem dull.  This is the assessment of the race from the Daily Kos Election update for June 21.

MA-Sen: Gabriel Gomez has gotten some “next Scott Brown” hype, to the extent that he’s a moderate Republican who’s a fresh face and running in a Massachusetts Senate special election (which will be held next Tuesday) against a charisma-challenged Democrat. However, there’s one important element that seems missing: the ability to mount a late surge and actually win the race, at least if the newest public poll is any indication. UMass Lowell, on behalf of the Boston Herald, gives Ed Markey his biggest lead of any pollster who’s looked at the race so far: among likely voters, Markey leads Gomez 56-36 (and 53-32 among all registered voters). This is the pollster’s first look at the race since the primary; they did poll the general way back in early March, and found an almost identical margin (47-28 for Markey).

Most pollsters have shown a closer race, usually in the high single digits, although the last couple public polls (from UNH for the Boston Globe, and from Harper Polling) both had it in the low teens; only one recent poll (a Suffolk poll with a 17-point margin in early May) had anything similar to this one.   And then there’s the GOP internal pollsters, who continue to see the race within low single digits; the most recent of these came out Thursday from McLaughlin, with Markey up 47-44. That follows a McLaughlin poll from two weeks ago with Markey up 45-44 (on behalf of donor John Jordan), in addition to two OnMessage polls directly on behalf of Gomez, one from less than a week ago with Markey up 47-40, and one from early May with Markey up 46-43. It’s not clear what the GOP hopes to gain from constantly leaking those polls, since most observers know that leaked internal polls usually overstate support for their candidate and none of these best-case-scenarios still manage to have Gomez winning.   The 47-44 topline is all that McLaughlin leaked to Politico, but Dave Weigel seems to have gotten his hands on the crosstabs, which show Gomez’s favorables falling from 48/27 to 41/35, while Markey’s are up a little, from 42/42 to 47/40. Again, not a sign of progress for Gomez, though maybe the GOP thinks the toplines are enough to convince donors that it’s not entirely a lost cause. (Although donations at this point would probably arrive too late to do anything other than last-minute GOTV.)

As for the original Scott Brown, the ex-Senator had publicly said that he was willing to campaign for Gomez as his schedule permitted, but so far he hasn’t done anything (apparently impeded by his busy dual careers of lobbying and appearing as a Fox News analyst). Well, he is finally popping up: he’ll be appearing at a rally with Gomez on Monday night, the night before the election. Is it really a case of a busy schedule, or just not wanting to let Gomez’s likely loss appear to be a referendum on Brown himself (especially considering that he may still get in to the Massachusetts gubernatorial race… or the New Hampshire Senate race)?

And if you’ve gotten the impression that Massachusetts voters are responding to the Ed Markey vs. Gabriel Gomez special election with a collective yawn, now we’ve gotten some quantitative proof. Absentee ballot requests are down significantly from the 2010 special election that elected Scott Brown; only 49.7K ballots have been requested, compared with 63.6K at the comparable point in 2010. The absentee ballot application deadline is on Monday, one day before the election.

This photo provided by WGBH shows U.S. Senate candidates, Republican Gabriel Gomez, left, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, right before a debate moderated by R.D. Sahl, center, Tuesday at WGBH studios in Boston. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

This photo provided by WGBH shows U.S. Senate candidates, Republican Gabriel Gomez, left, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, right before a debate moderated by R.D. Sahl, center, Tuesday at WGBH studios in Boston. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

I won’t be home on Tuesday so I’ve already voted absentee – for Markey.

As an aside:  I believe this is my 600th post.  When I started posting in July 2008, it was as a lark.  I write mostly for myself about what interests me which sometimes interests others.  I’ve had periods of inactivity and have a small, but faithful  following.    If you read FortLeft, thank you!

Replacing John Kerry or potential food fight in Massachusetts

John Kerry has not been appointed to anything as of this writing.  He has certainly not been confirmed by the Senate.  Neither of these facts are keeping the speculation about the race to replace him from heading toward some kind of crescendo.  Ben Affleck, Ted Kennedy, Jr., Congressman Ed Markey, or my former boss, Congressman Mike Capuano.  Will one of them get appointed by Governor Deval Patrick as interim and then be allowed to run or will it be Vicki Kennedy or former governor Michael Dukakis neither of whom will run.  Rumors. Rumors and speculation.

One thing I do know is that Scott Brown is running for something.  He just came out in support of an assault weapons ban which is a change in his previous position.  If he votes for the President’s fiscal cliff plan then we can be absolutely certain he is running.  The cynic in me would say that he likes being a senator more than he values loyalty to his party which, by the way, he didn’t mention much in his campaign against Elizabeth Warren.  It is Republican.

But let us play the game.

Ben Affleck and Ted, Jr. both campaigned for Elizabeth Warren.  Both appear to have good solid Democratic left politics.  Both probably have good name recognition (an issue for Ed Markey and Mike Capuano – although if I remember correctly, Mike came in second to Martha Coakley in Democratic primary to run against Scott Brown in the last special election.  Some, including me, said at the time that Mike would have pushed back harder against Brown than Coakley did).

For one, Ted, Jr. doesn’t really live in Massachusetts even though a lot of people probably think he must.  He would have to hurry and change his residence and registration.

The Boston Globe ran a piece speculating on all of this and said this about Ted, Jr.

The younger Kennedy would have to go out and campaign for the seat, just as his relative, Joseph P. Kennedy III, just did with his recent US House campaign.

Edward Jr. could rely on his father’s legacy, but also highlight his own work with the disability community, as well as his private-sector experience heading a New York-based health care advisory firm.

One immediate challenge, though, is residency. Kennedy may spend time each summer at the family compound on Cape Cod, but he lives in Connecticut.

Massachusetts election law does not require US House members to live in their respective House districts, only that they be an “inhabitant” of the state when elected. The same is true for senators, who don’t represent geographical districts but the entire state. Candidates for both offices, however, have to be registered voters in the state to circulate nomination papers.

President John F. Kennedy famously maintained his voter registration at 122 Bowdoin St., an apartment building across from the State House, all the way until his assassination.

Edward Kennedy Jr. would have to make some sort of formal commitment to Massachusetts before voters made a formal commitment to him.

Ironically enough, Hillary Clinton – the person whose departure may clear the path for a special election campaign – did just the same sort of thing in New York before winning her own seat in the US Senate

Then there is Ben.  His mother lives in Cambridge, but I thought he lived in California.  Anyway, I think he probably has the same residency issues as Ted, Jr.  But, hey, if Sonny Bono could become a Congressman.  A better example for Ben would be Al Franken who went home to Minnesota and visited everyone without cracking a joke.  Franken has made himself into a very good senator.  Unfortunately Ben doesn’t have time to do this.  He does go to Senate hearings, however.

Jay Westcott/POLITICO

The Globe didn’t have much to say about Ben, but Politico reported

“That’s not what I’m here to talk about,” Affleck told POLITICO. “I’m here to talk about what role we can place in making the Eastern Congo a better place.”

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that he was being touted as a possible candidate for Senate in Massachusetts. Affleck campaigned for Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) when she beat freshman Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in November.

So will Massachusetts go for star power, legacy or a seasoned politician?  And the bigger question:  who can beat Scott Brown?

Photograph of Ted Kennedy, Jr. – Brian Snyder/AP

Photograph of Ben Affleck  – Jay Westcott/Politico

Who is a lame duck?

Senator John Kyl and Representative West are lame ducks.  Scott Brown is a lame duck.  President Obama is not a lame duck.

The second and third definitions in Merriam Webster are relevant here.

2: an elected official or group continuing to hold political office during the period between the election and the inauguration of a successor
3: one whose position or term of office will soon end
Since President Obama is neither of these, it is wrong to call him a lame duck and assume therefore has no power to act.  He won’t reach lame duckness until after the 2016 election.
But we are in the midst of a lame duck session of Congress and we are trusting them to solve our fiscal crisis which they were unable to do the last two years.  Good luck to us all!

The Asian-American vote

It is easy to find stories about the Latino and African American vote which was critical to Democratic success but the Asian American vote was also something the Republican Party may want to consider.

Beyond the election of Japanese American Mazie Hirono (a little ethnic pride here), the first Asian American woman Senator, the Asian American (the Obama campaign called us AAPI for Asian American Pacific Islanders) went overwhelming for the President.

From Politico

While Asians only constituted 2 percent of the national electorate, in some states they made up a considerably higher proportion. In California, for example, they represented 11 percent of the vote.

“With 73 percent of AAPIs [Asian-American and Pacific Islanders] voting for Obama, we are clearly an undeniable and unshakable political power,” said California Democratic Rep. Mike Honda, chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, in an email. “As the fastest growing ethnic community in the country, we are the margin of victory.”

The National Journal reports

President Obama carried 73 percent of the Asian vote on Tuesday, continuing a two-decade-long march of Asian-Americans toward the Democratic Party in presidential politics.

Obama improved his performance among Asian-Americans more than among any other ethnic group between 2008 and 2012, according to exit polling. His support in the community jumped 11 percentage points, from 62 percent in 2008.

The 73 percent support that Obama garnered was the highest since national exit polls began tallying the Asian vote, and it marked the fifth straight presidential election in which the Democratic nominee attracted a greater share of the Asian-American vote.

President Clinton won only 31 percent of the Asian-American vote in 1992. His vice president, Al Gore, was the first Democrat to capture a majority of the community, with 54 percent support when Gore ran for president in 2000.

The Boston Globe had a longer story with some very interesting observations.

State Representative Tackey Chan, a Quincy Democrat, said Obama’s personal biography also appeals to many Asian-American voters.

“He knows what it’s like to have an immigrant parent, to struggle a little,” Chan said. “He spent some time in Indonesia growing up. I think they feel like he’s more likable and more sensitive to issues affecting Asian-Americans.”

In Massachusetts the Asian American vote was helped by Elizabeth Warren’s campaign outreach.

Nam Pham, executive director of the Vietnamese American Initiative for Development in Dorchester, said simple outreach can win votes.

“In our culture, we respect people who show us respect,” Pham said. “If you show people that you care, they will listen.”

Pham’s group helped to register about 300 Vietnamese-Americans for the election on a nonpartisan basis, but Pham said most of them probably voted for Democrats.

“In the Senate race, the [Elizabeth] Warren campaign did an excellent job of visiting and telling people here who they are and why they should vote for her,” Pham said. “[Scott] Brown was almost invisible in the Asian community.”

Scott Brown’s implication that Elizabeth Warren’s success was because she “checked the box” was also offensive.

Brown implied that Warren had advanced in her career as a law professor because she at one point claimed to have Native American ancestry. His suggestion was that she had taken undeserved advantage of affirmative action programs.

The strategy has been blamed for alienating women voters, by insinuating that Warren hadn’t earned her career accomplishments. Chan said the tactic also offended minorities, by diminishing theirs.

“Are you saying minorities only get ahead because they’re minorities?” he said. “It’s saying if you’re a minority, you automatically get a step up.”

But the two big reasons nationally appear to be health care and a shared immigrant experience.  As Lisa Hasegawa (no relation, but I have met her) pointed out

The final result aligned closely with a survey taken on the eve of Election Day by the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, which also showed 60 percent support for government-guaranteed access to health insurance, much higher than the overall electorate.

“A lot of Asian-Americans come from places with subsidized health care, where that’s an expectation, and it’s an important issue for them,” said Lisa Hasegawa, the coalition’s executive director.

If you want to know why this all matters nationally, think Virginia.  Specifically, think Northern Virginia where the Asian American population is only growing.  Think margin of victory in a divided country.

Report from my precinct

People are still in line to vote here in the City of Boston, but my Roxbury precinct voted in record numbers.  617 ballots out of about 900 or so registered voter.  Obama/Biden got 583 to Romney/Ryan’s 20.  Elizabeth Warren got 576 votes to Scott Brown’s 35.

No winners called yet in Massachusetts, but in my neighborhood we have winners.  It was worth the work.

More reports to come.

Why voting for Obama is important in blue states

If you are like me and live in a state that has already an insurmountable lead for President Obama’s re-election you might be tempted to vote third party, but it is still important for you to vote for Obama.  Why?  The popular vote total.  The pundits and headlines will continue to say the race is tied.  Forget the electoral college which in most estimates have Obama now over the 279 mark with some headed to 300.  No it is the popular vote where there is potential trouble.

Willard Mitt is too close for comfort. This morning Nate Silver puts it at 50.6 to 48.3 or a 2.3% margin for the President.  The margin of error is 2.1.  Much of the Romney vote comes from Red States and that is what is making it look close.  Unless Obama wins both the popular vote and the electoral college, the Republicans can complain about the results.  You know they will.  They are already beginning to blame Hurricane Sandy for the loss.

Of course, we won’t know until the votes are counted how things will turn out.  Polls can be wrong and folks like Nate depend on aggregating polls, but as an Obama supporter, I do feel hopeful.

Also it looks as if Elizabeth Warren will beat Senator Scott Brown.  Let’s hope that’s the last time I have to call him that!  And better yet, it is beginning to look like my old friend, Tim Kaine, will win in Virginia.

This shows President Clinton, President Obama and Tim Kaine.  This is an important sign:  The Democratic Senate candidate is not running from the President.  In a purple state.

So if you live in a blue state, don’t be thinking your vote for Obama doesn’t matter because it does.

Starting the big push for Elizabeth Warren

I’ve been doing little bits and pieces  for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign since August, but the big push to election day starts today.  Interesting that Scott Brown didn’t want to participate in a rescheduled debate which would have taken place last night.  I think he is seeing the growing agreement between the polls and realizes that he is losing.  He certainly lost ground while debating.  This is from Monday.

Senator Scott Brown said today that there was no need for a final debate with Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic opponent, while she said she would be willing to participate in a rescheduled match-up on Thursday night.

Brown did not rule out rescheduling the debate, which had been slated for tonight, but made clear that he had little interest in doing so.

I’m not sure another debate would have changed much, but there you go.  Brown went from “I have a truck and can pick her up”  to “I’m too busy.” between Friday and Tuesday.  Do you think that it had to do with the Suffolk University poll that showed Warren up by 7?

Garry Trudeau has been running an occassional series on the campaign featuring Joanie Caucus as a Warren staffer.  If Joanie can keep pushing after hip surgery, so can the rest of us.

Doonesbury