Massachusetts Could Have the Potential to Be Purple, But We’d Never Know
I’d love to be able to say I voted Republican straight down the ballot.
But I can’t, and neither can you. It wasn’t possible in Massachusetts.
This was my first time voting in what is generally believed to be a deep, dark blue state. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but after my experience Tuesday, something tells me Massachusetts has the potential to be purple. But at this rate, we’ll never know.
The precincts in the schools and community centers near me were plastered with Healey, Campbell, and DiZoglio signs. Volunteers for Maura Healey’s campaign stood in the brisk temperatures to rally undecided voters. I called up my fourth-generation Southie friend who reassured me there were no rules or regulations restricting signage at polling locations. Of course not—that’d be unconstitutional.
And yet, there was not a single Diehl-Allen sign in sight.
I realized that voting Republican as a 23-year-old woman living in South Boston was an anomaly. The way the blood drained from the poll worker’s face when she saw the “R” next to my name certainly confirmed that.
But really, she had nothing to worry about. Her state will remain very, very blue because of the limp efforts of conservatives in the Commonwealth.
Filling out the ballot itself was most dismal. The state GOP state committee didn’t bother to put up a candidate for treasurer. (The Libertarian who was on the ballot got 23 percent of the vote against the incumbent Democrat – probably the best showing for that fringe party anywhere in the nation Tuesday.)
There wasn’t even an option in my district for several down-ballot positions, including district attorney, state representative and state senator. By far the best Republican campaign run statewide this year was Anthony Amore’s for state auditor—I figure that if I’ve run into the candidate himself several times in public he must have been working hard—but GOP Chairman Jim Lyons’ moribund state apparatus refused to even acknowledge him as a candidate.
Having grown up in a swing state, I figured that some of the races in Massachusetts might be at least somewhat competitive. But slowly this fall I came to realize that given the current state of the local GOP, a “competitive” race means the Republican coming within 10 points of the Democrat.
But then I was perusing Twitter and stumbled upon a message from Massachusetts State Committee Chairman Jim Lyons that raised an eyebrow.
Lyons claimed the Bay State Republican Party gave it their all. That was their all? I know I’m new to town, but I had assumed they weren’t even trying.
You don’t have to be Nate Silver to have predicted that Maura Healey had this race in the bag. She knew it, too. Yet Healey was still out at local parades, playing pick-up basketball with kids, and showing up at summits. She mobilized volunteers and had effective social media accounts. Healey played the part.
I cannot say the same for our guy. As much as I would have loved to see an upset by perennial also-ran Geoff Diehl, it would have required him to get out and shake hands with at least a few people outside that whopping 8.7 percent of the electorate that still self-identifies as Republican on their local voting rolls.
But I never saw a single Diehl-Allen volunteer anywhere (that doesn’t mean they don’t exist—it means they aren’t visible where I live, in a city). I never drove past a yard sign. On social media, Diehl had a fraction of the following of the serious (meaning Democrat) politicians. Unlike most of the other Trump-endorsed candidates, Diehl kept that honor off his profile.
At the bare minimum, the GOP should have fielded a candidate in every statewide race. It should have acknowledged the existence of a Republican in the state auditor’s fight. This is very basic stuff, Politics 101.
It’s an old saying that you can’t begin recovery until you’ve hit rock bottom. So in a strange way, this election cycle makes me optimistic about the Massachusetts Republican Party.
We can’t go any lower.