Monday, February 1, 2016

A look at the 3rd Worcester, 9th Plymouth, and 12th Essex special state primaries

Candidates vie to replace DiNatali, Brady, and Cole on February 2nd
by BRENT BENSON

While those who follow politics are busy with this month's Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary, there are three contested State Primaries for Massachusetts State Representative seats on Tuesday, February 2nd, the day after the Iowa Caucuses.

Rep. Steve DiNatali resigned his 3rd Worcester seat to run for the mayorship of Fitchburg. DiNatali won the municipal election and took office on January 4th. The 3rd Worcester State Representative District consists of all the precincts in Fitchburg, and Precinct B of Lunenburg.

Rep. Leah Cole resigned as 12th Essex State Representative to return to her nursing career. All of the 12th Essex State Representative District precincts are in Peabody.

Rep. Mike Brady gave up his 9th Plymouth seat to run for the 2nd Plymouth and Bristol State Senate seat that was left vacant by the death of Thomas Kennedy. Brady won the special election and was sworn in as a State Senator on November 10th. All of the precincts of the 9th Plymouth State Representative District are in the city of Brockton.

While all three state representative districts have a Democratic-leaning Partisan Voter Index (a measure of Democratic vs. Republican voting in the last two presidential elections as compared to the U.S. average), both the 3rd Worcester and 12th Essex districts can go Republican, as indicated in the Charlie Baker margins of +12 and +10 in 2014 gubernatorial election.

February 2nd Special Primaries

3rd Worcester Candidates

There are three candidates for the Democratic primary in the 3rd Worcester District. Joseph Byrne is a retired insurance company owner who has not raised or spent any money in the pre-primary period, and who has not received any major endorsements.

Stephen Hay, an at-large Fitchburg City Councillor, and Kim Maxwell, a Community HealthLink social worker, both seem to have viable candidacies. Hay has raised and spent quite a bit more money, and has received the endorsement of three local State Reps—Hank Naughton, Dennis Rosa, and Jon Zlotnik—and the Fitchburg Sentinel newspaper. Kim Maxwell, on the other hand, has secured the endorsement of Massachusetts NOW, Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, Mass Alliance, SEIU, and NASW. The endorsements point to Hay as a more conservative Democrat, while Maxwell has received the endorsement of more progressive organizations.

There are no official Republican candidates for the 3rd Worcester seat. Dean Tran, a QA Manager at Avid Technologies, intended to run as a Republican, but did not switch his party affiliation from Independent to Republican in time to appear on the ballot. He is therefore mounting a sticker/write-in campaign and needs to get 150 write-in votes in the Republican primary to appear on the special election ballot against the Democratic winner, a fairly easy bar to clear.

3rd Worcester Primary Candidates

9th Plymouth Candidates

There are two current city councillors and one former city councillor in the Democratic primary for the 9th Plymouth State Representative seat. Former councillor Gerry Cassidy has raised over five times as much as his rivals, but current city councillor and aide to Congressman Stephen Lynch, Shayna Barnes has received seven high profile endorsements including Lynch, State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Presley, among others.

The winner of this primary will surely be the next State Representative, given strong Democratic constituency of Brockton (and the lack of any announced opposition).

9th Plymouth Primary Candidates

12th Essex Candidates

The 12th Essex State Representative seat has been in GOP hands during the last two elections with wins by Rep. Leah Cole by 3 points and by 1 point over Beverley Griffin Dunne.

Former State Rep. Thomas Walsh formerly held this seat before resigning after an ethics probe. He is the top fundraiser on the Democratic side over Councilor at Large James Moutsoulas and Best Buddies State Director Craig Welton.

Jaclyn Corriveau, a collector for American Renal Associates, raised over $41,000 dollars in the pre-primary period and will face off against Cole Aide Stephanie Peach.

Christopher Gallagher, former chair of the Peabody Cable Commission, is running as an independent, setting up a three-way special election on March 1st.

12th Essex Primary Candidates

Sunday, November 1, 2015

State Senate race between Brady and Diehl is a tale of two districts

Precinct-by-precinct analysis shows 2nd Plymouth and Bristol district split between Democratic Brockton and right-leaning suburbs
by BRENT BENSON

Massachusetts State Representatives Mike Brady (D-Brockton) and Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) are facing off in a November 3rd election to replace State Senator Thomas Kennedy as Senator for the 2nd Plymouth and Bristol District.

The 2nd Plymouth and Bristol District has a clear divide between its Democratic-leaning urban center of Brockton, and its more conservative suburbs of Easton (in Bristol County), and East Bridgewater, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Plympton, and Whitman (all in Plymouth County).

2nd Plymouth and Bristol Precincts



An analysis of the PVI (Partisan Voter Index, an average of the partisan lean based on the last two Presidential elections) of the district and its precincts bears out this divide. The overall PVI of the district is D+6, which would point towards a narrow victory for a Democrat for an open state legislative seat in Massachusetts.

However, Republican Donald Humason won the 2013 special election to replace State Senator Michael Knapik in the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District in 2013, which has a PVI of D+8, showing that the seat is winnable by Geoff Diehl and the GOP.

2nd Plymouth and Bristol precinct chart

Representative Brady currently represents 12 of the precincts of the senate district, while Representative Diehl represents only 6, which should provide a name recognition boost for Brady.

Money

Geoff Diehl has a definite advantage where money is concerned, receiving backing from outside groups like the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national PAC trying to elect Republicans to state legislatures, and local super donor Christopher Egan (son of EMC founder Dick Egan).

Turnout and ground game

While off-year and special elections normally favor the GOP because of demographic turnout trends, the November 3rd election date corresponds to a contested mayoral race in Brockton, which may even out the turnout between Brockton and the suburbs.

In addition, Mike Brady has built up a strong ground game to identify and get out Democratic voters, bringing in big name supporters like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Joe Kennedy III.

The result on Tuesday may provide a preview for the 2016 state election where outside GOP groups are planning to finance challengers in many Democratically-held legislative seats, and shed some light on whether a strong Democratic ground game can overcome large GOP money advantages.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Special election for 11th Worcester seat gives advantage to GOP but is winnable by either Palitsch or Kane

by BRENT BENSON

Massachusetts political history has shown it is difficult to unseat an incumbent legislator. So when a legislator resigns—as Matt Beaton and Carlo Basile have done to take key jobs in the new administration of Governor Charlie Baker—there are often strong candidates waiting for a shot at the open seat and the upcoming March 31 special elections to replace Beaton and Basile hold true to form.

The March 3 primary for Basile's First Suffolk State Representative seat had five Democratic candidates and the primary winner—former Basile staffer Adrian Madaro—will almost surely emerge victorious against Independent candidate Joanne Pomodoro in the general election in this incredibly Democratic district.

The Shrewsbury-based Eleventh Worcester State Representative seat that had been held by Republican Matt Beaton, and previously by Republican Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, has two strong candidates—Democrat Jason Palitsch and Republican Hannah Kane—and the outcome is harder to predict.

While the GOP history of the 11th Worcester seat seems to show a preference of the district's voters for Republicans, President Obama won the district by 16 points in 2008 and 8 points in 2012. The district has a Partisan Voter Index (PVI) of D+3, or an average of 3 points more Democratic than the country for the last two presidential elections.

But what does a PVI of D+3 mean in terms of a special legislative election? In order to get a clearer picture I did a regression analysis of the Massachusetts legislative special election results since 2009 and compared them to district PVI.

District Fundamentals

While there are only 16 data points, the results indicate that a D+3 district is likely to elect a GOP legislator, but the range of possible outcomes is very wide. A strong Democratic candidate can win in this district—John Velis won in the less Democratic (D+1 PVI) 4th Hampden District to replace Republican Donald Humason a year ago.

The graph shows the Dem-GOP margin vs. district PVI for all of the Dem/GOP contested special elections for state legislative seats since 2009. The horizontal green line shows the cutoff between a Democratic and GOP win, and the angled blue line is regression line showing the best fit for the data. The Palitsch/Kane point shows where the 11th Worcester PVI of D+3 falls on the regression line. The shaded area shows the confidence interval—it is clear that this data is not strong enough to indicate a sure victory for either party, except in the most Democratic districts with a PVI above D+20.

MA Legislative Special Elections Graph

The following table holds a summary of all of the legislative special elections since 2009.

MA Legislative Special Elections Table

Fundraising

Both candidates have done a good job raising campaign dollars with Palitsch raising a total of $102,169 as of yesterday's pre-election report, while Kane has raised $118,630. The big difference comes in spending, as Palitsch spent all but $4,729, while Kane holds onto $71,428. Leaving this much cash on the table a week before the election seems to indicate confidence in a win by Kane—it doesn't make sense to reserve that much money for election day ground game or to leave that much money in the bank in a close race.

11th Worcester Fundraising Table

If the race ends up being close, the up-front spending by Palitsch might be a factor, but the similarity in fundraising totals does not seem to provide a game-changing element to overcome the district fundamentals. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

State Senate 2015-2016 Democratic majority leadership and committee assignments

by BRENT BENSON

Massachusetts State Senate President Stan Rosenberg announced leadership and committee assignments for the Democratic members of the Senate for the 2015-2016 legislative session.

Leadership

Majority Leader: Chandler
President Pro Tempore: Pacheco
Assistant Majority Leader: Creem
Assistant Majority Leader: Joyce
Assistant Majority Leader: Montigny
Majority Whip: Petruccelli
Assistant Majority Whip: Donnelly

Senate Standing Committees

Ways and Means
Spilka - Chair
DiDemenico
Jehlen - Assistant Vice Chair
Brownsberger
Chang-Diaz
Donnelly
Donoghue
Downing
Keenan
Kennedy
McGee
Moore
Petruccelli
Rush
Timility

Intergovernmental Affairs
Dorcena Forry - Chair
L'Italien- Vice Chair
Gobi
Moore
Rodrigues

Redistricting
Downing - Chair
Joyce - Vice Chair
Chang-Diaz
L'Italien
Timilty

Rules
Montigny - Chair
Creem - Vice Chair
Chandler
Spilka

Bills in Third Reading
Joyce - Chair
Petruccelli - Vice Chair
Donoghue
Downing

Steering and Policy
Wolf - Chair
Lewis - Vice Chair
Chang-Diaz
O'Connor Ives

Personnel and Administration
Rush - Chair
O'Connor Ives - Vice Chair
Donnelly
Donoghue
Pacheco

Children's Caucus
McGee - Chair

Ethics
Creem - Chair
Brownsberger - Vice Chair
Chandler
DiDomenico

Post-Audit and Oversight
Barrett - Chair
Downing - Vice Chair
Lewis
Moore
Welch

Bonding, Capital Expenditures, and State Assets
Keenan - Chair
Chang-Diaz - Vice Chair
Donnelly
Donoghue
Moore

Global Warming
Pacheco - Chair
Eldridge - Vice Chair
Barrett
Downing
McGee

Joint Standing Committees

Financial Services
Eldridge - Chair
Lesser - Vice Chair
Keenan
O'Connor Ives
Rodrigues

Economic Development and Emerging Technology
Donoghue - Chair
Gobi - Vice Chair
Barrett
Keenan
Lesser
McGee

Education
Chang-Diaz - Chair
Jehlen - Vice Chair
Dorcena Forry
Lewis
L'Italien

Housing
Dorcena Forry - Chair
Keenan - Vice Chair
Chandler
Gobi
Jehlen

Public Safety and Homeland
Timilty - Chair
Moore - Vice Chair
Chang-Diaz
Flanagan
Welch

Revenue
Rodrigues - Chair
Timilty - Vice Chair
Downing
Lesser
Wolf

Higher Education
Moore - Chair
Donoghue - Vice Chair
Downing
L'Italien
O'Connor Ives

Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Flanagan - Chair
Lovely - Vice
Donnelly
Dorcena Forry
Eldridge

Telecom, Utilities, and Energy
Downing - Chair
Pacheco - Vice Chair
Gobi
Joyce
Wolf

State Administration and Regulatory Oversight
Lovely - Chair
Eldridge - Vice Chair
Barrett
Keenan
Rodrigues

Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development
Lesser - Chair
Downing - Vice Chair
Eldridge
Lovely
Wolf

Community Development and Small Business
O'Connor Ives - Chair
Rush - Vice Chair
L'Italien
Rodrigues
Wolf

Children and Families
Flanagan - Chair
Lovely - Vice Chair
Chang-Diaz
Keenan
Lewis

Public Health
Lewis - Chair
Flanagan - Vice Chair
Lesser
Lovely
Timilty

Judiciary
Brownsberger - Chair
Keenan - Vice Chair
Chang-Diaz
Creem
Jehlen

Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture
Gobi - Chair
Rush - Vice Chair
Eldridge
McGee
Timilty

Public Service
Timilty - Chair
Rodrigues - Vice Chair
Barrett
Donnelly
Kennedy

Elder Affairs
Jehlen - Chair
L'Italien - Vice Chair
Barrett
Gobi
Lesser

Consumer Protection and Licensure
Kennedy - Chair
Petruccelli - Vice Chair
O'Connor Ives
Rodrigues
Timilty

Transportation
McGee - Chair
Keenan - Vice Chair
Donoghue
Dorcena Forry
Lesser
Rush

Veterans and Federal Affairs
Rush - Chair
Kennedy - Vice Chair
Barrett
Gobi
Lesser

Municipalities and Regional Government
L'Italien - Chair
Lovely - Vice Chair
Brownsberger
Donaghue
Timilty

Health Care Financing
Welch - Chair
Montigny - Vice Chair
Barrett
Dorcena Forry
Joyce
L'Italien

Election Laws
Kennedy - Chair
Donnelly - Vice Chair
Brownsberger
DiDomenico
Welch

Labor and Workforce Development
Wolf - Chair
Barrett - Vice Chair
Donoghue
Lewis
Moore

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Boston Olympics poll shows taxpayer funding a primary concern of opponents

Respondents who support Boston's bid believe funding will come from private sources, opponents think taxpayers will foot the bill
by BRENT BENSON

A new poll from WBUR and MassINC Polling finds that 50% of Boston respondents support a Boston-based Olympics, while 33% oppose, and it appears that a some of the opposition is based on who will pay for the construction and hosting costs.

Forty-six percent of those who support a Boston Olympics think the funding will come from private sources; 35% of the supporters think funding will come from taxpayer funds; while 19% don't know.

On the other hand, a full 83% of the opponents of a Boston olympics believe that taxpayers will foot the bill for a Boston Olympics, with 7% counting on private money, and 11% who don't know.

If Mayor Marty Walsh and other Boston Olympic proponents want to increase public support, convincing them that a minimum amount of taxpayer funds will be needed might go a long way to improving Boston's Olympics prospects.

Olympic support by funding source

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Massachusetts gubernatorial polls were less biased than national midterm polls

A look at the polling average and a comparison of each pollster's last poll to the final result
by BRENT BENSON

While a comprehensive look at the polls of the 2014 midterm races show that the polls were biased by several points towards Democrats, that did not seem to be the case for the totality of the Massachusetts gubernatorial polls of the race between Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker. The final Mass. Numbers time-weighted polling average showed Baker up by two points, essentially equalling the unofficial election result of a 1.88 point Baker win, and a simple average of the last poll from each pollster shows a similar result of Baker +2.3.

While the average was very close to the election result, the final polls of the Massachusetts gubernatorial race showed a reasonably wide range from a 4 point lead for Martha Coakley, to a 7 point lead for Charlie Baker.

The following table gives details of each pollster's final poll sorted by difference from the election result. The polling methods included internet panel, live phone interviews, automated phone calls (IVR), and IVR supplemented with an internet panel to reach non-landline respondents.

MA Governor polls vs. result (chart)

The YouGov poll showing Coakley up 4 was the biggest miss of the final polls with a difference of -5.88 points from the actual result. The Globe/SocialSphere poll had Baker up 7 (a 5.12 point difference), the UMass poll missed by -4.88 points, and the Emerson College Polling Society poll missed by 4.02 points.

The closest poll to the final result was the Rasmussen IVR/Internet poll 22 days before the election which had an almost perfect 2 point Baker margin. MassINC Polling was also close to perfect with Baker +1, closely followed by Suffolk with Baker +3. UMass Lowell was just over 2 points off (Baker +4), and WNE had Baker +5 for a miss of 3.12 points.

While some of the polls of the Massachusetts gubernatorial race were remarkably accurate and others missed the mark by 5 or 6 points, the overall picture provided by the polls in the form of an average gave us a good idea of the eventual result.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Money from Massachusetts GOP shadow group fails to unseat targeted state representatives

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance spending on immigrants-over-veterans mailings had little affect on race outcomes
by BRENT BENSON

An outside spending political action committee run by Republican State Committee member Rick Green and called the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance portrayed itself as an issues-based committee concerned with fiscal discipline. But mailings undertaken by the committee against a group of 19 Democratic State Representatives made it clear that the goal of the group was to campaign against those house members and support of GOP challengers using a debunked immigrants-over-veterans attack.

The mailings seem to have failed as 17 of the 19 representatives were re-elected, several in very GOP-leaning red districts. A loss by Rep. Rhonda Nyman to GOP challenger David DeCoste was in the 5th Plymouth District where President Obama lost by 8 points, Senator Warren lost by 26 points, and is ranked the third most GOP-leaning Rep. district in the Commonwealth. This is a hard district for any Democrat to hold.

The other loss came in the more Democratic 2nd Franklin District. Rep. Denise Andrews of Orange lost to two-time challenger Susannah Whips Lee. Lee outraised Rep. Andrews in the pre-primary and pre-election reporting periods, raising $44,698 compared to $16,960 for Andrews.

Election results for MFA targets

The success of Democratic incumbents Josh Cutler, Colleen Garry, Jim Cantwell, Ted Speliotis, and Jim Arciero in Republican-leaning districts shows that the PAC mailings were not an effective campaign tool for the GOP.