Is a word cloud worth a thousand words? Maybe, when the word is “Republican.”
Party polarization has been a big issue lately and it probably isn’t going to help Republicans in Massachusetts in 2012. That (R) following his name helped cost Scott Brown the 2012 senate race against Elizabeth Warren and drove him from the state in quest of a senate seat he could win. In Tisei, Baker, and the Tea Party “Smear” I wrote of the problem the Republican Party brand presents in Massachusetts. In Charlie, I Have Good News and Bad News and in What Deval Patrick’s 2010 Win Might Tell Us About 2014 I wrote about how increasing polarization in governor’s races may harm Charlie Baker’s prospects. So I was pretty interested to see this word cloud accompanying a new UMass Poll from our friends Professors Brian F. Schaffner, Ray LaRaja, and Tatishe Ntete from UMass Amherst. Feast your eyes:
By the way polls released thus far show that hardly anyone has even heard of Democratic candidates Juliette Kayyem or Don Berwick, but the UMass Poll reports that Berwick and Kayyem – remember, unknowns – would be in a dead heat against Baker.
It may also be a consequence of voters not paying attention yet. Baker himself is not as well known to the electorate as we might surmise, so “Republican” is the first thing that comes to mind. There is plenty of time for the campaign to define him on their own terms. It’s a headwind.
It is getting hard to get voters to vote the man, not the party.