Is there a GOP wave coming?

Is the Massachusetts Republican party on the cusp of an enormous victory in November?  Yesterday’s election results don’t bode well.  The GOP lost two state representative races to fill the seats of Katherine Clark in Melrose (formerly held by Richard Tisei) and Don Humason in Westfield.

To take the latter seat, the Democrats tacked to the right with John Velis, who crossed party lines to back Scott Brown over Elizabeth Warren in 2012.

These special elections are low turnout affairs and, as a matter of course, do not typically offer the type of harbinger of things to come to which partisans cling.

But here’s the thing: Democrats can afford a random loss hither, thither, and yon because of their overwhelming numbers.

The GOP cannot and now their forces in the House are again reduced.

And, once more, Democrats will put a field team together before November that will be the envy of their opponents.

Low turnout specials are supposed to enhance the stature of those typically incapable of organizing on a mass scale.  Fewer people turn out and Democratic constituencies stay home.  That is just about the only reason why Republicans are expecting a lift nationally this fall.

And still the GOP here could not organize on the micro level to help two strong candidates.  This hurts. They have come to believe that the myriad “scandals” at the state level have laid the groundwork for a tidal wave of support.

What they discovered yesterday is they were gazing at tidal pools of their own presumptions.

Field organization, GOTV efforts, good old fashion door knocking are important keys to success, as we’ve noted over and over again.

Candidates matter as well and the GOP has a strong gubernatorial candidate who may be able to win despite the GOP organization.

But it won’t be easy and it seems less and less likely that Charlie Baker can pull the GOP into the legislature like his mentor Bill Weld in 1990.

About Peter Ubertaccio

Peter Ubertaccio is the Director of Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society at Stonehill College in Easton and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science & International Studies. His work focuses on political parties, marketing and institutions. He received his Ph.D. in Politics from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Professor Ubertaccio and his family live on Cape Cod where he is on the Board of Directors of the OpenCape Corporation and the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation.
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2 Responses to Is there a GOP wave coming?

  1. D. R. Tucker says:


    I know Republicans like to complain about one-party
    rule in MA. Well, when the other party is filled with
    back- stabbing, gay-bashing, clean-energy-hating, litmus-testing
    hardliners, one-party rule doesn’t seem so bad! :)

  2. Ed Lyons says:

    Professor Ubertaccio,

    I think the MassGOP has improved it’s field work, coordination, and data management a great deal within the last year. (Yes, starting from a very poor position.) I am not disagreeing with your assessment, just saying that good things are happening that are different than in the past. Also, each of the three races had powerful factors that were not related to organization or money. (I am curious to see how the new type of field work went in an upcoming post-mortem.)

    Personally, I am also working on coding a decentralized mobile field tool for activists that is similar to the Dashboard that President Obama’s 2012 effort had, with some interesting enhancements. I will let you know when it is up – probably several weeks from now.

    We shall see! But yes, things did not go well last night, and if there is hope for November, it will have to be in spite of these results.

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