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Massachusetts To Vote For Governor, U.S. Senator


      Election Day in Massachusetts could produce landslide victories for both a Democrat and a Republican headlining their respective tickets.

       Republican Governor Charlie Baker and Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren appear poised to win re-election to second terms.  Both have enjoyed consistently large double-digit leads in public opinion polls throughout the campaign.

  Despite the hyper-partisanship that currently dominates politics, Massachusetts voters, it appears, will have no trouble ticket-splitting when it comes to Baker and Warren.

"They're just fundamentally different races and I think voters appreciate that," said Matt Szafranski, Editor-in-Chief and founder of Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight. He said this election demonstrates a bifurcation of national and state politics.

"Massachusetts voters are, on the whole, pretty savvy about how they vote. They do recognize a difference between state and federal. It explains how they can like Scott Brown ( former Republican US Senator) and  still decide they want a Democratic U.S. Senate and vote for Elizabeth Warren. It is a similar dynamic playing out here. They want Democrats in Washington and they're not worried about the situation in Boston on the same level."

A WBUR/MassInc poll last month found 3 in 10 voters said they intended to mark both Baker’s and Warren’s names on their election ballot.

Massachusetts has a history of such ticket-splitting.  In 1994, Republican Gov. Bill Weld and Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy both won re-election by large margins -- Kennedy over a first-time candidate by the name of Mitt Romney.  

But as Szafranski notes, the political climate is much different now than it was in the mid-90s.

" People are so partisan and so batten down in their political positions it is rare to see that even in a place with a history of electing Republican governors like Massachusetts," said Szafranski.

Warren has run a very partisan campaign. She’s railed against the Republican Party and President Trump and by extension her Republican opponent Geoff Diehl.

"The fundamental question is who does Mr Diehl want to go to Washington to work for?" Warren asked at an Oct. 21st debate on WGBY-TV.  "He says he wants to work for the people of Massachusetts, but he repeatedly defends Donald Trump. He cheerleads for Donald Trump."

   Since winning the Republican primary, Diehl has downplayed his support for President Trump. The state representative has stuck with a consistent line of attack against Warren, charging that she’s neglected Massachusetts as she prepares a possible run for president in 2020.

"She's fixated on the White House, not your house," said Diehl.  "I want to work for the people of Massachusetts and me a full-time senator, something she won't even commit to."

Warren led Diehl by a margin of 57 percent to 27 percent in a survey of likely voters released last Wednesday by the Western New England University Polling Institute.  Independent Shiva Ayyadurai had the backing of 7 percent of the voters.

  The same poll showed Baker with a commanding lead over Democrat Jay Gonzalez, 65 percent to 27 percent, with 7 percent undecided.

Baker throughout his campaign has stressed a record of bipartisanship. He has pointed to his administration’s work with local government leaders – many of whom are Democrats – and bills he signed that came from a Democratic-dominated legislature.

" At the end of the day voters need to measure us on what we have actually done," said Baker.

In an attempt to nationalize the campaign for governor, Gonzalez seized on Baker’s endorsement of Diehl and the rest of the GOP ticket, accusing him of loyalty to the Republican Party over the values held by a majority of Massachusetts residents.

Entering the final hours of the campaign, the challenge for Gonzalez is to persuade people that a vote for him is not being wasted.

" We've seen this across the country this year that  money, special interests, endorsements, and polls are not deciding elections; people are," said Gonzalez.

A Boston Globe poll last month found 70 percent of voters think the state is heading in the right direction.


Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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