Category Archives: Mass Politics

Coakley, Brown, & Baker and the difference between Senate and Guv elections

Success for Martha Coakley, Scott Brown, and Charlie Baker this November may depend on a proper appreciation of the difference between US Senate and gubernatorial elections.

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The Scott Brown-Barack Obama Correlation

Is there anyone whose political fortunes are more tied to President Barack Obama than Scott Brown? According to Joshua Miller in the Boston Globe today, Scott Brown riding an anti-Obama wave in N.H.  Obama played a large role in electing Brown in Massachusetts in 2010, Obama atop the ballot helped usher out the Scott Brown Era in Massachusetts in 2012 (and Brown himself out of Massachusetts), and Obama’s unpopularity may help usher Brown into yet another Senate seat in 2014.

Before we get back to New Hampshire though, le me return again to what really mattered in 2010. No, it wasn’t Martha Coakley’s supposed gaffes.

My University of Massachusetts at Boston colleagues Tom Ferguson and Jie Chen produced a working paper for the Roosevelt Institute, 1,2,3, Many Tea Parties that offered a much more likely explanation for the Democrats’ demise in 2010 than Coakley taking the days around Christmas off: the failure of Obama and the Democrats to address the economic devastation being felt by American working and middle-class families.

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We’re Not Data Points. We’re Citizens.

Wilson Carey McWilliams was a wonderful political scientist and one of the best political essayists of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His tools of analysis were not statistical computations but his education in classical liberalism, his understanding of thinkers from Aristotle to de Tocqueville and beyond. Every four years he contributed an essay on the meaning of the presidential election, which were eventually collected into a book titled The Politics of Disappointment: American Elections, 1976-1994. I’ve been re-reading it lately.

I can’t imagine what Prof. McWilliams would make of “Big Data.” Not much I guess. He didn’t write of dependent variables and crosstabs. He wrote of the soul of democracy and the experience of the citizen in a democracy that seemed to be inexorably drifting away. So let me offer some of the thoughts of the late Prof. McWilliams on how the citizen experienced the campaign of 1988. I’ll then see if I can’t contribute something to his thoughts as musings on where we find ourselves in 2014.

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Polling as a Commodity in a Saturated Market

Before last week’s mini-controversy over the inaccuracy of media polls fades and we lustily return to our media-prescribed diet of several polls a week perhaps we should ask, what do we need these polls for, anyway? Or, do the interests of the citizenry align with that of the media?

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Our primary colors are bland

What happens if you throw a primary election and no one shows up? Massachusetts seems to be determined to answer that question in relative short order.

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After Action Report: Media Polling Performance

For the past four months I have been arguing that the contest for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination between the sitting State Attorney General and State Treasurer was much closer than the pollsters would have us believe. Now that the results on Election Day seem to support my conclusion, the pollsters who saw a 40-plus point Coakley lead in the Spring and a 20 or more point lead three days before the polls opened, need to figure out where they went wrong.

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Facebook Forecast: Jeanne Shaheen to Defeat Scott Brown

Tuesday morning we brought you a posting from UMass Amherst political science doctoral candidates Matt MacWilliams, Edward Erikson and Nicole Luna Berns in which they used their Facebook Forecasting Model to predict a win for Scott Brown in the New Hampshire Republican primary for U.S. Senate – not an earth shattering prediction. They have just completed data analysis for the general election and have a daring prediction for the race. Read on for how they see the race, and how they did it.

Early this week, we used Scott Brown’s surging Facebook PTAT to predict that Brown would walk away with the Republican nomination for Senate in New Hampshire. With the primary behind us, we can now apply our full Facebook Forecasting Model to the Senator Jeanne Shaheen/Brown contest. The model produces a weekly two-candidate election forecast. Over time, the weekly prediction also provides a dynamic track of which way a race is moving. Our forecast for New Hampshire predicts that Senator Shaheen is on track to hold her seat with 56% of the vote.

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Coakley and Baker: What the Speeches Mean

Although politics is often represented as a mean and low undertaking it is essential to our common lives together. Entertaining yes, but in the higher sense of presenting the citizens with contrary views of what our lives might be like and especially, how to get there. In that regard the stylized set-piece of primary night speeches might offer few clues of the higher meaning of politics. Still, there are insights to be had.

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The Polls fooled Reporters who wrote “Nothing to see here.”

Attorney General Martha Coakley beat Treasurer Steve Grossman by 6 points in yesterday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Today, the media is filled with headlines about the surprisingly close result. We here at Masspoliticsprofs, however, were not surprised. In fact, we’ve been explaining how and why the political media’s uncritical acceptance of polls showing a consistently huge Coakley lead was a disservice to voters.

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Primary Misgivings

Primary day dawns with misgivings about what we know and why we think we know it. We will apparently not be lacking for new polls as the election season continues or debates among the leading candidates. But how well is the media equipped to carry out the gatekeeper function it proclaims for itself? Thus far the business driven entertainment imperative has often overtaken the information function.

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