Charlie Baker’s Word Cloud

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:

Baker Republican word cloud

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.

About Maurice T. Cunningham

Maurice T. Cunningham is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He teaches courses in American government including Massachusetts Politics, The American Presidency, Catholics in Political Life, The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln, American Political Thought, and Public Policy. His book Maximization, Whatever the Cost: Race, Redistricting and the Department of Justice examines the role of the DOJ in requiring states to maximize minority voting districts in the Nineties. He has published articles dealing with the role of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts politics and on party politics in the state. His research interests focus upon the changing political culture of Massachusetts.
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7 Responses to Charlie Baker’s Word Cloud

  1. D. R. Tucker says:

    Maurice,

    Well, when the party the man belongs to has
    gone loco…

  2. Ed Lyons says:

    Professor Cunningham,

    Well, first, there are some good words in that Baker word cloud!

    Second, the poll is good news to me, as a Republican. Baker is down by 11 points, and there are many more than that who are undecided. As he is raising lots of money and running a solid campaign, I feel good about where he is.

    The UMass poll does show, as you imply, that approximately 1/3 of the voters are going to vote Democrat no matter who the candidate is. I also was glad to see this, as I thought that number would be about 40%.

    It’s all good. I just hope the judge today keeps Mr. Fisher off the ballot, purely for the sake of helping Baker. (I don’t have the luxury of caring about the MassGOP’s sloppy vote – Baker can’t afford any problems like a primary where he can’t use party resources in the name of running against a nativist, anti-gay, ignorant, heartless conservative vanity candidate who has virtually no supporters. Either Baker wins in November or we are officially dead as a statewide party and how we conduct our conventions won’t matter at all.)

  3. Maurice T. Cunningham says:

    Ed,

    There are some good words and I wouldn’t be too concerned about horse race in May either. It is more the political structure we all operate in that may have shifted to make a race in Mass. tougher than even those faced by Governors Weld and Cellucci.

    “Smart” made it onto the list. I’d have picked smart.

  4. Christopher says:

    Why isn’t Baker better known among the electorate since he was the GOP nominee last time?

    • There are candidates that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknown candidates; that is to say we know there are candidates we do not know. But there are also unknown unknown candidates, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

  5. Maurice T. Cunningham says:

    Christopher,

    I really don’t know the answer, I wonder if there is research on how long it takes for a figure to pass from the public mind. I remember around the time Mr. Baker visited my UMB class in fall 2012 his name recognition was quite low then. Maybe a reflection of how little attention the general public pays to politics? Just a guess there.

  6. Brad Lovoi says:

    Mo, I certainly agree on the “R-Word” factor as there is an almost reflexive reaction among many moderate voters who may otherwise consider Baker if they were voting on issues alone. Tisei will be facing the same issue as well. The GOP brand is in tatters in New England and some of the more strident and vocal conservatives in the party ranks are not helping matters.

    However, if Coakley implodes (quite possible given past performance) there is a door open for him. But Baker needs to run as an individual and a very “small r” Republican.

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