Massachusetts still very blue, but moderates hold clout
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts in 2018 lived up to its national reputation as a solidly blue state, once again electing an all-Democratic congressional delegation with more women than ever including Ayanna Pressley, the state’s first black congresswoman-elect.
Yet the runaway re-election of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker also confirms that moderate and conservative-leaning Democrats remain a potent force in Bay State politics, not to mention independents, who comprise more than half of all voters.
And while Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren — a fierce critic of President Donald Trump and potential 2020 presidential contender — easily won a second term, her race against Trump supporter Geoff Diehl was a reminder that Republican outposts still stand in dozens of smaller communities, particularly in central and southeastern parts of the state.
Many voters seemed intent on sending a message of widespread disapproval of Trump.
Results from AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of voters and nonvoters, found that in Massachusetts, at least half of voters said they cast ballots to express opposition to Trump, and two-thirds disapproved of the way the president is handling his job.
A closer inspection of the Nov. 6 election results from cities and towns, due to be officially certified next week:
While his re-election was hardly a surprise, the scope of Baker’s win over Democrat Jay Gonzalez was noteworthy, considering how blue Massachusetts leaned otherwise and the anti-Republican sentiments expressed by many voters.
In amassing two-thirds of the total vote, Baker trailed Gonzalez in only about 30 of the state’s 351 cities and towns.
The Democrat did win Boston, but just barely — 50.7 percent to Baker’s 49.3 percent.
Warren, by contrast, won more than 80 percent of the vote in Boston in the Senate race.
It appeared many voters in Massachusetts did what Molly Downer, a 68-year-old banker from Cambridge, did on Election Day. They voted a straight Democratic ticket — except for Baker.
Downer said she once had Republican leanings but has drifted left in response to Trump and “the way the Republican Party has gone.”
Baker’s broad support among independents and many Democrats will doubtless attract attention from moderate Republicans nationally who may float his name as a potential 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate or even the White House.
The governor, however, has pledged to serve his entire second term and has never shown serious interest in going to Washington.
NOT ALL GOOD NEWS FOR WARREN?
Warren was easily re-elected, but unofficial returns showed her Republican rival carried nearly 100 Massachusetts towns, most of them small in population. The largest was historic Plymouth, where Diehl won by a little more than 400 votes out of more than 27,000 cast.
Diehl co-chaired Trump’s 2016 campaign in Massachusetts, and while Hillary Clinton handily won the state’s 11 electoral college votes, Trump did get a little more than 1 million votes.
Diehl’s performance in the Senate race closely mirrored that of Trump in Massachusetts two years earlier. Diehl carried large pockets of Plymouth and Bristol counties, but New Bedford and Fall River, the two largest cities in Bristol County, went convincingly for Warren — New Bedford by nearly 2 to 1.
Similarly, a large swath of Worcester County from the New Hampshire border down to Connecticut backed the Republican over the Democratic incumbent. Again, the votes from these smaller, more rural towns (Diehl carried the Democrat’s namesake town of Warren 53-41 percent) were more than offset by huge margins Warren racked up in the city of Worcester and its eastern suburbs.
Such results may presage the national electoral dynamics Warren would face should she run for president in 2020 and become the Democratic nominee. Her candidacy and message was embraced by women and minority voters, suburbanites and young urban dwellers, yet even in her home state it was resisted by scores of white, working-class voters and those from rural areas.
Results from AP VoteCast found more than six in 10 Massachusetts voters don’t believe Warren should run for president at all.
STILL BIGGEST ALL-BLUE DELEGATION IN D.C.
Massachusetts will continue to send to Washington the only all-Democrat congressional delegation of any state that holds more than five seats in the U.S. House.
The GOP did not contest four of Massachusetts’ nine House seats, and none of the Republicans who were on the November ballot ever seriously threatened. The only one to barely nudge 40 percent of the vote was Peter Tedeschi, of Marshfield, in his race against Rep. William Keating in the 9th District.
This is nothing new, of course. The last time a Republican won a House race in Massachusetts was 1994.
The only upset in the 2018 election cycle came in the September primary, when Rep. Michael Capuano, of Somerville, one of the delegation’s most liberal members, lost a challenge from his left to Pressley, a Boston city councilor.