Something we can expect on September 20th is a bunch of graphics from the Mass GOP linking the eventual nominee with Sal DiMasi, and Robert Travaglini. It was a successful tactic in 2002 (though the crew back then inspired more hostility), but in some ways there is reason to consider the impact of the Legislature on the completion of a candidate’s agenda.
Below I look to figure out and quantify what impact the Legislature would have on candidates’ plans, and take a stab at quantifying that impact on the idelogical bent of the final outcomes such as laws. What comes out is that a Reilly administration would be notably moderate, and that Patrick and Gabrieli end up with surprisingly similar outcomes.
I support Reilly, and also like Gabrieli. However, I tried to be rigorous in scoring the candidates, and did not play with the ratings upon seeing the results. This is all first draft.
From the conclusion text:
Gabrieli would actually be able to deliver a great deal of what he promises…soon into his term, he could probably work better with the Legislature than would any other candidate….The narrow difference between [Patrick's] outcome and that of Gabrieli moves the debate between the two to even greater emphasis on differences in “leadership” and personality…Governor Reilly would govern over a moderate administration, slightly more liberal than himself.
Much more underneath. I encourage to read how I got these conclusions before commenting upon them.
Methodology and data
I think the impact of the Legislature on what a governor accomplishes depends largely on two factors:
- Ideological differences: If both candidates are on the same page, it doesn’t really matter. But the wider the difference between the two agendas, the greater the effect of the Legislature’s ideological “pull”.
- State House familiarity: Being able to navigate the ways of the Legislature, and find leverage with powerful Reps and Senators is key to getting things done.
I am not going to try to estimate competence. That is an important factor, in many ways the most important one, but I see no way of fairly estimating it on a constant scale. Time spent in Mass. politics is easy to distinguish, as the ideology on platforms — more on that later. But how does one project gubernatorial competence when judging from running a capital venture firm, or lawyering for private corporations?
Obviously, many disputes beween the branches of Mass. government cocern corruption and power and have little ideological element (pensions, for instance). I can’t account for those in this framework. Underneath, I perform some back-of-the-envelope calculations to try to estimate how the Legislature would impact Governors Reilly, Gabrieli, or Patrick.
I am not including Healey or Mihos because partisanship would skew this data even more.
Simple enough. We’ll rate all four factors (3 candidates and Leg) on a scale with 0 because the extreme left, and 5 dead center. This will be a point of contention, but this is what I came up with.
Okay, prepare your vitriolic comment now. Now that you’re done, I will say that I found Gabrieli the hardest to rate, not least of all because I have trouble finding a consistent ideoological bent across all his positions. This is not a criticism — it may be a sign of pragmatism, which is often in short supply at this point in a campaign.
Take the scale of 0 to 10 as representing the notable impulses within the two parties — the Greens would probably clock out at -1.0, the Libertarians at 12. I’m looking mainly at candidates with a real chance at winning on this scale.
State House familiarity
The other main factor is how candidates would be able to impact the process. Personal relationships with legislators, favors to trade in, influence within the party that decides who gets how much help campaigning, knowledge of the rules of the Legislature all matter here.
Here, I rate candidates from 0 (figurehead) and 5 (Sal and Trav walk his dogs every morning).
These numbers represent balance between the Leg and the govenor. A 2.5 equals total parity. Given the constitutional balance of powers, we cannot expect much on either side of the scale, but there will be some differences between the candidates. Given that many of the Legislature’s goals are non-ideological (and more rewarding themselves and their cronies), candidates’ pull will be over-stated when only looking at these matters of ideology.
(I rate Gabrieli somewhat higher because of experience on the Hill working on stem cell and after school programs. Reilly is a longtime public servant in Boston, or if you prefer, “insider”. Whatever his strengths, Patrick hasn’t had the time to really establish himself within the Legislature.)
Okay. More questions and flames. Moving on…
Putting it all together
The final equation looks like this:
(Candidate’s ideology*familiary coefficient) + (Legislature’s ideology*[5-fam coeff]) / 5
What this means is the following:
I take the candidate’s ideology and adjust it based on the amount of influence on the process they have (out of a total of 5), and average it with the legislature’s ideology adjusted with their pull (5 minus the candidate’s pull), i.e., the remaining influence)
Why divide by 5? Well, I’m adding the multipler of 5 up top to denote influence, and it has to be screened out by the end. So everything is divided by 5. If people want, I can provide more explanation.
And the data is:
The equations are:
Gab: [(2.5*3.1)+(3.0*1.9)] / 5 = 2.69
Pat: [(1.5*1.9)+(3.0*3.1)] / 5 = 2.43
Rei: [(3.6*3.7)+(3.0*1.3)] / 5 = 3.44
Gabrieli would actually be able to deliver a great deal of what he promises, because of his moderate pull on Beacon Hill, and the narrower ideological difference between himself and the Legislature. His final outcome is closely in line with his expressed ideology. Furthermore, Gabrieli hasn’t “maxed out” on legislative influence the way Reilly has — soon into his term, he could probably work better with the Legislature than would any other candidate.
The shorter relationships that Patrick has with the Legislative leadership impact his ability to deliver on his agenda, more than any other candidate. On the other hand, the narrow difference between his outcome and that of Gabrieli moves the debate between the two to even greater emphasis on differences in “leadership” and personality. The moderating effect of the Legislature could provide comfort for voters unsure about his perceived liberal bent.
Governor Reilly would govern over a moderate administration, slightly more liberal than himself. The Legislature would pull him to the left, but not by much given his strong links within that body. This administration would be able to deliver on many of his promises. Though this outcome is closely aligned to the perceived mean of Massachusetts voters, it is notably off the line of primary voters.
I encourage you to use this method, though imagine many people would plug in their own numbers. I urge intellectual honesty when doing so, however — just because you don’t like Reilly or Patrick doesn’t make them a 10 or a 0. If someone could get a