Facebook Metrics Predict Scott Brown Primary Win

We’ve posted from our friend UMass Amherst doctoral candidate Matt MacWilliams in the past with news of his Senate forecasting model using data from Facebook. Today we welcome another post from Matt and his UMass Amherst colleagues Edward Erikson and Nicole Luna Berns. Their Facebook model is strongly suggestive that Scott Brown will capture the Republican nomination for the US Senate in New Hampshire later today. Of even more interest, they are going to use Facebook to forecast the winner in the Scott Brown-Senator Jeanne Shaheen final. They’ll do this on their blog #hashtagdemocracy and have generously agreed to cross post here. Enjoy this new and interesting approach to forecasting senate elections.

Can publicly-available data from the Facebook pages of candidates for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire tell us anything about who will win come Election Day next Tuesday and in November? If what we learned during the 2012 elections is any guide, the answer may be a whole lot. Continue reading

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Prof O’Brien breaks down the #mapoli primary on Callie Crossley’s “Under the Radar.” #WGBH #NPR

Take a listen: wgbhnews.org/post/massachusetts-primary-x-factors

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A historic ticket is possible on Tuesday

Massachusetts may hit a historical milestone after the balloting on Tuesday. Since 1970, 16 different women have been nominated for various statewide offices by the two main political parties.

This current cycle might feature six, two Republican and four Democrats. Continue reading

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“Anatomy of a disagreement” or “My beef with Bernstein”

It used to be said that you shouldn’t argue with folks who buy ink by the barrel. An Information Age corollary to that sage admonition might be, you shouldn’t argue with top Twitter Influencers. Continue reading

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What John Cook and John Walsh Mean for Democracy

The candidates are churning to the primary finish line and have even come to the attention of a few sentient voters. Yet candidates may not be the most important people in their parties. The Boston Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert contributed an excellent piece in last week’s “Capital” on John Cook, perhaps the most important man in the Massachusetts Republican Party: he’s the GOP’s Fundraising Guru.

That caught my eye because in a 2012 HuffingtonPost article my colleague Professor Ubertaccio declared then Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh The Most Important Person for Democrats in Massachusetts.

I’m sure Cook and Walsh are very important people but their true importance is in what they symbolize for the conduct of American politics. It’s bigger than either of them. And it goes to whether we have a true democracy or not. Continue reading

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A season of forums

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Let it be said that we’ve done our part to raise the profile of the pre primary races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer.  The Globe reports that many of our fellow citizens remain unaware of the candidates.  That’s not due to a lack of campaigning or public forums.

The Martin Institute has tried to offer a small corrective.  All of our forums can be found at www.stonehill.edu/forum

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Democratic Men and Comments “Unbecoming”

It’s been a bad week for Attorney General candidate Warren Tolman. It’s been a bad 226 years for women in politics here in the Commonwealth as the Bay State has sent a nearly exclusively male delegation to Washington since its founding. Continue reading

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From the Archives: Lincoln and Religion

Even on vacation I think of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural. It beats the latest polling news, which I don’t get anyway.

Religion in Politics: It’s Not the Certainty, It’s the Doubt

One of the most fascinating columns I’ve read in some time is from the Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh, his Gay Marriage: A Look Back After 10 Years.  He vividly recalls the turmoil at the State House as conservatives fought to overturn the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision. Lehigh especially decried “fanatics and fundamentalists” “who believed they had a direct line to God.” It’s enough to make many of us wish religion would just go away from American politics.

It never will. Besides the more interesting thing about religion isn’t the certainty; it’s the doubt.

I just finished reading Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address with my students. Of north and south, Lincoln stated:

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.

The language stands as a rebuke through history of those who claim to conduct war under some heavenly grant. The “wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces” is language Lincoln employed several times throughout his life. It is from Genesis 3:19, which recounts the fall of man due to original sin; a parallel with the nation’s original sin of slavery.

“Let us judge not that we be not judged” is from Matthew 7:1. Lincoln is warning us all (especially the soon-to-be-victorious north) that we must be conscious of our own sins and offer judgment only with great humility. A recent application occurred when Pope Francis was asked about gay priests and responded “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Lincoln went to great lengths in the Second Inaugural to uncover the mystery of a war neither side seemed to want and which lasted beyond what anyone expected, beyond even the existence of the cause of the war. Yet, “The Almighty has his own purposes.”

As I like to point out to my students, there was no “Mission Accomplished” banner hanging up at the Second Inaugural. Far from it. Instead, drawing on Psalm 19:9, Lincoln offers the most chilling words a president has ever addressed to the American people, about the duration of the war:

Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

Man does have a role to play in the great task, however:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

As Ronald C. White explains in Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural, by “charity” Lincoln means the word as it is used in 1 Corinthians 13: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” What Lincoln means, argues White, is charity as love, specifically agape, to love one another, even an enemy, as oneself. This recalls another biblical passage I remember Dr. Martin Luther King reciting from Matthew 5:43: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

I’m glad there are so few “fanatics and fundamentalists” in Massachusetts. I wouldn’t give a nickel for them. But to have the moral lessons of religion in the hands of someone like Lincoln is a priceless treasure.

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Washashores enter a local district race on Cape Cod

First term Democratic Representative Brian Mannal has had better weeks.  The question is whether Cape Codders direct their ire at him or his washashore opponents.

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From the Archives: The Coakley Media Narrative

Prof. Cunningham is on vacation but has left behind some favorite posts from the archives. Read on to consider that Martha Coakley’s 2010 mistakes did not cost her that race but could cost her this one.

The Stumbling and Bumbling Martha Coakley

coakleyMartha Coakley, this time you’ve gone too far. When the Boston Globe ran an article in which Democrats fretted that you are a political bumbler and fumbler, my colleague Professor Ubertaccio rose to your defense.  I made fun of the Democratic knee-knockers too. Then in The Myth of Martha Coakley’s Mistakes I argued that the AG’s fumbles and bumbles didn’t really impact the 2010 special election loss to Scott Brown.

So how does the AG thank us? With this, from Frank Phillips of the Globe: Martha Coakley’s Campaign Funds in Disarray.

I’ll continue to maintain that Coakley’s fumbles and bumbles didn’t cost her the election in 2010. But they might cost her the election of 2014.

That is because the media frame established on Coakley from 2010 is one of an inept politician who commits serial unforced errors. A frame is a window through which we perceive reality.

Coakley seemed to recognize the stark force of the Globe story depicting Democratic insiders as anxious that she could fall apart in a gubernatorial contest.   Even though those experts were wrong that her miscues cost the party the special senate election, the story is strong enough that it had to be addressed. So she set about to combat the notion that she isn’t a hard working campaigner by getting all around the state. She did her mea culpas. She even campaigned outside of Fenway Park, adding to the list of miracles occurring at the lyrical bandbox this year. Her announcement video didn’t offer any reason to vote for her but still, some polls showed her beating the Democratic field and Republican Charlie Baker.

But then along comes the Phillips story in the Sunday Globe revealing that Coakley has so mismanaged her leftover federal campaign account from the senate race that she may have committed “a violation of campaign finance law.” It’s hard to tell if the account is flush or in deficit because the records are so inaccurate. Oh, and one of the individuals paid to oversee the accuracy of the account is Coakley’s sister.

Plus as AG, Coakley has pursued state political figures including former Lt. Governor Tim Murray for campaign finance violations. Naughty naughty Tim.

So in other words, she has completely blown the effort to alter the media frame.

Let’s also remember this bit of inside information from a September 5 Globe story by Phillips and Jim Sullivan, Baker Enters Governor’s Race, Coakley Weighs Bid:

Coakley insiders say she has yet to make a final decision about whether to run, but confirm that much of her decision depends on whether she can assemble a highly talented group of organizers, media consultants, and pollsters.

Organizers, consultants, and pollsters; that ought to do it.

In one piece of good news for the Coakley campaign, Massachusetts has no statewide version of Saturday Night Live. Tina Fey would have a field day.

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