Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

Senator Scott Brown, A Historic Event?

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2010/01/22


Many pundits have said a Republican winning the Senate seat in Massachusetts is a historical event. After all, Massachusetts is the bluest of the blue states (strongest Democrat stronghold (the links I use below make Democrats red and Republicans blue so don’t get confused)). So I decided to test that statement out based on Presidential election cycles dating back to 1960. And the results proved quite interesting (to me, anyway).

The 1960 elections
Overall 49.72 percent Kennedy (D) (won)
Rhode Island 63.63
Georgia 62.54
Massachusetts 60.22
No other state broke the 60 percent mark.

The 1964 election
Overall 61.05 percent Johnson (D) (won)
DC 85.50 (The first year DC had electors)
Rhode Island 80.87
Hawaii 78.76
Massachusetts 76.19
No other state broke the 70 percent mark.

The 1968 election (the Dixiecrat election year)
Overall 42.72 percent Humphrey (D) (lost)
DC 81.82
Rhode Island 64.03
Massachusetts 63.01
No other state broke the 60 percent mark.

The 1972 election
Overall 37.52 percent McGovern (D) (lost)
DC 78.10
Massachusetts 54.20
No other state broke the 50 percent mark.

The 1976 election
Overall 50.08 percent Carter (D) (won) Side note: Carter won all the formerly Dixiecrat states.
DC 81.63
Georgia 66.74
Arkansas 64.94
West Virginia 58.07
South Carolina 56.17
Massachusetts 56.11
Tennessee 55.94
Alabama 55.73
Rhode Island 55.36
North Carolina 55.27
Minnesota 54.90
Maryland 53.04
Kentucky 52.75
Delaware 51.98
New York 51.95
Florida 51.93
Louisiana 51.73
Texas 51.14
Missouri 51.10
Hawaii 50.59
Pennsylvania 50.40
The rest of the states broke under 50 percent.

The 1980 elections
Overall 41.01 percent Carter (D) (lost)
DC 74.89
Georgia 55.76
No other state broke the 50 percent mark.
Massachusetts was very tight, going 41.90 Reagan, 41.75 Carter. But Massachusetts was John Anderson’s (I) strongest showing at 15.15.

The 1984 elections
Overall 40.56 percent Mondale (D) (lost)
DC 85.38
No state broke the 50 percent mark.
Massachusetts’ 48.43 mark came in second only to Minnesota’s 49.72 mark.

The 1988 elections
Overall 45.65 percent Dukakis (D) (lost)
DC 82.65
Rhode Island 55.64
Iowa 54.71
Hawaii 54.27
Massachusetts 53.23
Minnesota 52.91
West Virginia 52.20
New York 51.62
Wisconsin 51.41
Oregon 51.28
Washington 50.05
No other state broke the 50 percent mark.

The 1992 elections
Overall 43.01 percent Clinton (D) (won) Note: Perot (I) had a major impact as Clinton and the elder Bush each won four states with less than 40 percent of the vote.
DC 84.64
Arkansas 53.21
No other state broke the 50 percent mark.
Massachusetts was 47.54 (compared to only 29.03 for Bush)

The 1996 elections
Overall 49.23 percent Clinton (D) (won)
DC 85.19
Massachusetts 61.47
No other state broke the 60 percent mark.

The 2000 elections
Overall 48.38 percent Gore (D) (lost)
DC 85.16
Rhode Island 60.99
New York 60.21
Massachusetts 59.80
Maryland 56.57
New Jersey 56.13
Connecticut 55.91
Hawaii 55.79
Delaware 54.96
Illinois 54.60
California 53.45
Michigan 51.28
Vermont 50.63
Pennsylvania 50.60
Washington 50.13
The rest of the states were under the 50 percent mark.

The 2004 elections
Overall 48.27 percent Kerry (D) (lost)
DC 89.18
Massachusetts 61.94
No other state broke the 60 percent mark.

The 2008 elections
Overall 52.87 percent Obama (D) (won)
DC 92.46
Hawaii 71.85
Vermont 67.46 (Note: Vermont has the only openly Socialist US Senator and he caucuses with the Democrats)
New York 62.88
Rhode Island 62.86
Maryland 61.92
Delaware 61.91
Illinois 61.85
Massachusetts 61.80
California 60.94
Connecticut 60.59
The rest of the states were under the 60 percent mark.

When Massachusetts wasn’t the strongest of Democrat strongholds, it was among the strongest. Even when Massachusetts swung Republican in the Presidential election, the Democrat votes were higher than the national average. Overall, I have to say Massachusetts is one of the strongest Democrat strongholds from the evidence I’ve seen.

Massachusetts has definitely upset the apple cart here. With a long history of voting heavily Democrat, sometimes second only to DC, the switch was indeed historic. Massachusetts voters gave Obama nearly 62 percent of the vote in 2008, but 14 months later gave a Republican who vowed to stop Obama in his tracks 52 percent of the vote. In my mind, this is indeed a wake-up call to all Democrats nationwide. If a Republican can win a statewide election in Massachusetts, a Republican can win nearly anywhere. And that should scare the Democrats but good.

Sidenote: Notice how heavily Democrat DC is? Is there any wonder Republicans that stay in DC too long lose touch with, and become clearly more liberal than, the base?

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