Category Archives: Mass Politics

Our new home

Now that we have moved to WGBH, all future posts can be read at

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MassPoliticsProfs Is Moving to WGBH

Dear Readers:

After three plus years of independent blogging about state and national politics, is moving to We are excited about this move because we believe it presents a wonderful opportunity to expand our audience and to improve the content of the blog. In our earliest discussions of this move with WGBH News senior editor Peter Kadzis, he described the culture of WGBH as a “convener” of informed ideas and commentary. The MassPoliticsProfs think we’ll fit right in.

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Welfare and Charlie Baker’s Problem with Women of Color

Charlie Baker had a bad week.  And I mean a really bad.  Baker dropped his ad firm just as  recent polling showed a 10 point lead for Democratic opponent Martha Coakley.  Then he called a female reporter “sweetheart” as she asked him legitimate questions about Roger Goodell given the NFL’s abhorrent handling of violence against women. Even Baker’s “Women for Charlie” group, which many women find so dismissive, had to be second guessing themselves.

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Those Rational Non-Voters

Some people see low primary turnout and say why; I see low turnout and say, why not?

I know, I know – I’m a political scientist and I should be urging all to the polls. I’m not qualified to enter into dialogue with my public choice theory colleagues but let me say that perhaps voters stayed home on primary day because they are rational.

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How Polls Influence the Campaign

My post last week Polling as a Commodity in a Saturated Market generated some interesting comments in the 140 character world of Twitter. I’d like to indulge in a few extra characters for some of the issues that arose. Important questions arose about whether anyone outside the community of political junkies even notices polls, whether polling influences or simply measures attitudes, and polling and citizen engagement.

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Today’s installment of campaign farce-ocracy: nonpartisan voter ed

If you’re wondering whether  a 501 (c) 4 can jump the shark, take a look at the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance’s recent voter education effort.

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Facebook Forecasting and the Curious Case of Scott Brown

Today we welcome back UMassAmherst political science doctoral candidates Matthew MacWilliams, Edward Erikson and Nicole Luna Berns and their Facebook Forecast Model for an updated prediction on the Brown-Shaheen race and an important challenge Brown poses for their model.

This week’s forecast shows Senator Jeanne Shaheen still ahead of Scott Brown in New Hampshire, but Shaheen has dropped from 55% to 52%. The Scott Brown candidacy in New Hampshire presents an interesting outlier challenge to our Facebook Forecasting Model. In fact, there is no other candidate in the history of Senate campaigns quite like Brown. Why?

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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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