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Massachusetts Senate race hinges on independent vote

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It’s results like these that routinely place Massachusetts as one of the top states for Democrats in rankings of party affiliation. Last year, a Gallup survey named Massachusetts the third-most Democratic state, behind only Washington D.C. and Rhode Island.

Long history of GOP governors

But Massachusetts voters also gave Republicans the key to the governors’ office for 16 straight years, from 1990 to 2006.

Moreover, Senate races have historically been tight when the Republican candidate is moderate enough to appeal to centrist voters. Sen. John Kerry had close races against Ray Shamie in 1984, Jim Rappaport in 1990, and Bill Weld in 1996 – all of whom earned at least 40 percent of the vote.

Senator Kennedy saw his toughest challenge in 1994 against Mitt Romney, who would later be Massachusetts’ governor and an unsuccessful candidate for president. While Mr. Romney eventually shifted further to the right during his 2008 presidential bid, Massachusetts voters considered him a moderate Republican in his statewide campaigns. In fact, until 1993, Romney was registered as an independent.

For Coakley and Brown, it’s the state’s independents who will likely determine the outcome of the race.

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