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Analyzing the Election Results

While it was a good night nationally, it sure was a disappointing night in Massachusetts. Nationally, the Republicans took back the house, winning over 60 seats from the Democrats. They came up short in the senate, mostly because the Democrats only ever had 17 seats in play, though the Republicans appear to have won 7 or 8 of those (Colorado and Washington are still too close to call, so it’s only +6 as of this writing). I’m disappointed by the Nevada and Connecticut results. Connecticut in particular seemed like such a clear cut choice to me, but nothing compares to what happened in Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, liberal voters felt under siege and turned out in high numbers. Charlie Baker was a terrible candidate, and Tim Cahill made the mistake of not running for the Republican primary. Regardless, the ballot questions were surprising to me as well. Question 1, to repeal the double tax on liquor in the state, barely passed. I’m convinced that there’s a certain population in this state that is basically neo-prohibitionist, and will vote for anything to restrict the sale of alcohol. Question 2 to repeal the low-income housing requirements failed. And Question 3 to reduce the state sales tax failed.

A few lessons from the question 3 initiative: The measure polled well before TV ads were run, and polled poorly and lost after TV ads were run. This says two things: TV ads are still effective, and the Libertarian apparatus in the state is incapable of raising money for TV ads. Question 3 had a natural constituency in retailers who must be feeling the heat from the increased sales tax. The fact that they evidently couldn’t raise money from those retailers to run ads indicates a certain degree of haplessness.

I have to say I was absolutely right on Sean Bielet, though even I got sucked in to some of his excitement thinking he might pull close. Here’s what I wrote in a comment on a Pajamas Media article predicting Barney Frank’s defeat:

Simply not happening. It may be close, but I do not see the Jewish populations of Newton and Brookline turning on the only Jewish member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. More likely they feel under siege and will turn out for Frank in high numbers.

Brown won the district, but there was no Jewish candidate in that race. Reagan won Massachusetts, but don’t forget he was Irish, and had that ethnic solidarity going for him as well. Were Bielat of Portuguese descent then maybe he could motivate the voters of Fall River enough to push him over the edge. Alas, he is not, and I’m afraid this race may not even be particularly close, much as I would like to see Bielat win.

At this point, part of me wonders if Bielat didn’t energize the opposition with his spirited campaign. At any rate, for all the money he spent and sucked out of other potential races, he only did as well as Gerry Dembrowski, who lost to Ed Markey and nobody thought had a real chance to win. Maybe Bielat will run for something else in the future. Or maybe we’ll never hear from him again.

I do have to say that the most disappointing race of the night for me was to see Mary Z Connaughton lose to Suzanne Bump. Suzanne Bump cheated on her taxes, accepted gifts inappropriately while in the legislature, and has never been a financial professional to my knowledge. Connaughton, OTOH, is a CPA who never cheated on her taxes. The auditor’s job is a technical one that requires real financial knowledge, and one that is the watchdog over the state. To be a CPA one must, among other things, apprentice for a number of years as an auditor, learning how audits work. It was appalling to me to hear Bump run ads implying that Connaughton’s claim to be an auditor was bogus. And it is deeply confusing to me how people could vote for an unqualified tax cheat over a qualified professional.

When you add these three things together, Patrick’s re-election, the loss on Question 3, and the election of Suzanne Bump, you have the makings of a fiscal catastrophe. The establishment on Beacon Hill will interpret this as a mandate to raise taxes, to spend without oversight, to really gorge themselves at the trough. So hold on to your wallets, kids, because it’s gonna be a rough couple of years here in Massachusetts.

2012 prediction: Stephen Lynch runs against Scott Brown and beats him by 5 points.

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