Thursday, August 22, 2013

Charlie Baker's problem isn't lack of personality, it's that nobody knows who he is

Baker's name recognition numbers incredibly low for a recent gubernatorial candidate

Former Senator Scott Brown announced last night that he is not planning to run for Massachusetts Governor, leaving the GOP field wide open for former gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker. Brown was quoted as saying of Baker "Is he he Mr. Personality? No. Everyone knows that he's not." Unfortunately for Baker, the problem is not that he lacks personality, but that Massachusetts voters don't know who he is, even after a high-profile run for Governor three years ago.

A poll conducted by WBUR and MassINC Polling in mid-December 2012, just two years after Deval Patrick defeated Charlie Baker and Tim Cahill in a well-covered statewide race, showed Charlie Baker tied with Marty Meehan for lowest name recognition, with 36% of voters having never heard of either—an astoundingly low number for a recent gubernatorial candidate. An additional 35% of respondents didn't know enough about Baker to have an opinion, leaving 17% who looked on Baker favorably, and 13% who had an unfavorable impression. There were fully 71% of the surveyed voters that hadn't connected at any level with Baker.

Poll name recognition chart

A more recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling in early May of 2013 had similar findings with 21% of the respondents having a favorable opinion of Charlie Baker, 20% unfavorable, and 59% of the surveyed voters unsure.

While Treasurer Steve Grossman, who has recently declared his candidacy for governor, had similarly low name-recognition numbers in the May PPP poll (20% favorable, 14% unfavorable, and 66% not sure), Grossman's campaign for Treasurer in 2010 against GOP nominee Karyn Polito did not receive nearly the media attention of the governor's race. Grossman has yet to have his opportunity to make a splash with the Massachusetts electorate.

While Charlie Baker's lack of personality may be a contributor to his failure to make an impression on Massachusetts voters in 2010, it is clear that he has an incredible amount of work to do in order to win a majority in 2014.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Candidates for the three open State Rep. seats

Special state primaries to be held on Tuesday, August 13

All three of the districts are comfortably Democratic. Tomorrow's special primaries may very well determine the winner of all of the races. The fundraising numbers are the receipts and expenditures numbers from the pre-primary reports on OCPF.

Twelfth Suffolk State Representative District

12th Suffolk Rep. District

Previously held by Senator Linda Dorcena Forry who resigned after being elected as State Senator for the First Suffolk district. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic—ranked 6/160—with President Obama winning the district by 80 points and Senator Warren beating Scott Brown by 72 points.

Sixteenth Worcester State Representative District

16th Worcester Rep. District

Previously held by Rep. John Fresolo who resigned the seat. The district is very Democratic—ranked 48/160—with President Obama winning the district by 42 points and Senator Warren beating Scott Brown by 26 points.
  • Daniel Donahue (D) - Director of Policy and Assistant Chief of Staff to Worcester Mayor Joe Petty - - raised: $12,506, spent: $2,850
  • Khrystian King (D) - Social Worker with the Department of Children and Families - - raised: $2,143, spent: $4,037
  • Daniele Nanni (D) - Pharmacy Buyer for Critical Care Systems in Shrewsbury - Facebook - raised: $4,775, spent: $4,173
  • James O'Brien (D) - Human Services Manager and Real Estate Agent - - raised: $850, spent: $3,285
  • Joshua Perro (D) - Junior at Clark University studying Political Science and Economics - - raised: $6,225, spent: $6,400
  • Carol Claros (R) - Nurse - - raised: $6,660, spent: $3,129
This previous article provides more specifics about the district and the likelihood of GOP win for Claros.  

Sixth Bristol State Representative District

6th Bristol Rep. District

Previously held by Rep. David Sullivan who resigned to take a position with the Fall River Housing Authority. The district is very Democratic—ranked 49/160—with President Obama winning the district by 40 points and Senator Warren beating Scott Brown by 26 points.
  • David Dennis (D) - Fall River City Councilor - - raised: $0, spent: $2,085
  • Carole Fiola (D) - Former Governor's Councillor - - raised: $2,640, spent: $19,960
  • Brad Kilby (D) - Fall River City Councilor - Facebook - raised: $3,290, spent: $3,237
  • Gerald Potvin (D) - Department of Transportation employee - Facebook - raised: $200, spent: $1,078
  • David Steinhof (R) - Dentist - - raised: $2,790, spent: $1,918
Note Carole Fiola's expenditures of $19,960 including $11,000 on printing and $2,600 on radio advertising.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Knapik resignation leaves opening for Democratic Senate pickup in 2nd Hampden and Hampshire

Strength of candidate and ability to turn out voters in Holyoke and Easthampton will be key

Republican State Senator Mike Knapik of Westfield has announced that he is resigning his 2nd Hampden and Hampshire seat to take a position at Westfield State University. Analysis of 2012 Presidential and Senate results in Knapik's district shows an opening for a strong Democratic candidate to win the seat in the upcoming special election. President Obama won the district by 21 points and Senator Warren defeated Scott Brown by 4 points in the district.

However, the district is not necessarily a slam dunk for the Democratic nominee in the upcoming special election. The Democratic votes in the district are concentrated in the more populated areas of Holyoke and Easthampton, while the Republican votes are in the more rural and suburban southwestern parts of the district. It may be difficult to achieve turnout levels in Holyoke and Easthampton that match the traditionally higher special election turnout in the suburbs.

There is a detailed article on Blue Mass Group examining some of the possible candidates for the position, including Republican State Rep. Donald Humason, who has already put his hat into the ring, and Democratic State Rep. Aaron Vega of Holyoke. A run by Vega would likely help with Democratic turnout, given his strength and name recognition in Holyoke.

Average of Obama and Warren Margins (click for interactive map)

Precinct-by-precinct results for 2nd Hampden and Hampshire district
2012 Pres. and Senate Results for 2nd Hampden and Hampshire dist.