Category Archives: Mass Politics

Probation Mess: Go for the Jugular, Charlie

Yesterday my colleague Professor Duquette counseled Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker to forego attacks on the Democrats over corruption. Professor Duquette’s reasoning was that an attack on the leadership in the wake of the Probation Department verdict would incite legislative Democrats to deploy their mighty organizations against Baker; thus campaigning on Democratic corruption would backfire on Baker.

Professor Duquette is wrong. Here’s why.

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Probation Mess: Perception v. Strategic Reality in Guv’s Race

Political scientists have long been debated the relative significance of various factors in determining electoral outcomes. One debate focuses on the relative significance of turning out base partisan voters versus attracting so-called “swing” voters, or voters not wedded to casting a straight party ballot. Another angle on this debate focuses on the relative importance of voter mobilization versus voter persuasion. When media reporters and analysts cover events like the probation trial and verdicts in terms of the impact such things will have on the elections they put greater emphasis on the significance of swing voters and voter persuasion. They pretty much have to do this in order to make their work interesting and relevant to their audiences, but the campaigns of the major party statewide candidates put much greater emphasis on turning out (i.e. mobilizing) voters. To the folks running the Coakley, Grossman, and Baker campaigns public opinion about headline grabbing events, as measured in campaign season media polls, is much less important than most people (and most media analysts) assume.

Posted in Mass Politics, Political Analysis in the Media, Political Science | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Speaking of Immigrants

Joanna Weiss began her column on immigrant children in powerful fashion the other day: “What if the Irish potato famine happened today?” We do have that history and I’ve always marveled at how it was summarized by my late friend the Boston College historian Thomas O’Connor in his book The Boston Irish: A Political History “If there had existed in the nineteenth century a computer able to digest all the appropriate data, it would have reported one city in the entire world where an Irish Catholic, under any circumstance, should never, ever, set foot. That city was Boston, Massachusetts.”

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The demagogues among us

There’s nothing like the fear of the other to bring the demagogues in our midst out into the open.

Posted in Cape Cod Politics, Mass Politics, U.S. Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

No White Hats

The long ordeal between US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien ended its trial phase yesterday with a verdict in favor of the US Attorney. Both sides as well as defendants-by-proxy Speaker Robert DeLeo and the Massachusetts legislature came out considerably diminished. It’s hard to look upon the fraudulent conduct at the Probation Department as business as usual; it went beyond that.  The US Attorney’s Office zealously pushing the limits in political prosecutions is business a usual, but unfortunately there is no Spotlight Team to stop them.

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Veteran Benefits v Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: A Downright Stupid False Binary

When we passed the rescue scene surrounding a bad car accident, my mother taught me to say a prayer for those involved and not look. I suggest the same strategy for political analysis on Facebook. The recent surge of undocumented and unaccompanied children at U.S. border has tested this self-imposed rule though as recent weeks have seen memes stating “I can’t help but wonder why there are so many homeless veterans and so few homeless illegals” and the following:

cutting-veterans-benefits

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Most Gendered Headline of Campaign Season: “Is Coakley Using Women’s Issues as a Campaign Crutch?”

 Yes, you read that headline right. And if you did not blink, or better yet recoil in disgust, then you are a part of the problem. Last week, GoLocalWorcester published Nicholas Handy’s more measured piece on the role of women’s issues could play in differentiating the three Democrats hoping to win the gubanatorial primary. But headlines matter and this one is a doosey: “Is Coakley Using Women’s Issues as a Campaign Crutch?” Hard to imagine Massachusetts has one of the worst records in electing women, eh?

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Faith and Philosophy in Gov. Patrick’s Immigration Decision

Governor Deval Patrick’s remarkable press conference announcing that Massachusetts would welcome unaccompanied immigrant children continues to reverberate through the commonwealth. His actions and remarks carry implications for how we think about religion and politics, for political philosophy, and for our political institutions.

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Some aren’t ready for Hillary

Professor O’Brien and Professor Ubertaccio are quoted in a piece by Scott Conroy in Real Clear Politics: Not Ready for Hillary: The Rationale for Elizabeth Warren

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Don’t further the ugly

The plight of migrant children and the role of the Commonwealth in offering them shelter is going to produce many reactions.  There are those grounded in reality (cost, duration, locations best suited for the situation, etc) and then there are others.

Posted in Cape Cod Politics, Mass Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments