How Warren did it, by the numbers

Wonky goodness. Numbers like these are yet another testament to John Walsh's superb ground game strategy. - promoted by david

I have spent far too much time staring at the 2010 Special Election Results.  Now I have a much more enjoyable page to look at: the 2012 Senate election results.  These are almost, but not quite, done.  They’re close enough to shed some light on how Elizabeth Warren won this race.  Lots of numbers (many of them approximative).

I know Elizabeth Warren won this race by being a great candidate with a great program, and by inspiring an army of eager volunteers like me and many of you.  But I always find it instructive to look at how a candidate won, in terms of turnout and margins in key parts of the state.

First, Boston came up big.  She took 74.2% in Boston vs. 69.4 for Coakley.  Much more importantly, turnout was up significantly.  96,000 more votes were cast in this Senate race in Boston than in 2010, a 63% increase.  Turnout in Boston in 2010 was under 43%; yesterday it was almost 60%.  As a result, Warren’s margin of victory in Boston was more than doubled Coakley’s.  Coakley won the city by almost 59,000 votes; Warren by almost 120,000.  Net gain 61,000 votes.

Turnout heavy in other Dem strongholds.

  • In Cambridge, Warren captured 84% of the vote, identical to Coakley’s showing.  But there were 50% more votes cast in Cambridge this time than in 2010, and thus a corresponding 50% increase in the margin of victory there, from 22,000 votes to 33,000 votes.  Net gain 11,000 votes.
  • In Somerville, turnout was up 54% over 2010.  Warren’s percentage was a little better as well, so her margin of victory there was almost 9,000 votes higher than Coakley’s, or almost doubled.
  • In Brookline, very similar 3-1 margin compared to 2010.  But turnout up by over 30%.  Warren took the town by 13,000 votes; Coakley by only 10,000.
  • Likewise Newton, very similar 2-1 margin compared to 2010.  But 10,000 more votes cast.  Warren took the city by 14,000 votes, Coakley by only 12,000.

Ran better in Dem strongholds around the state:

  • Warren beat Coakley’s percentages in New Bedford (70% vs. 60%) and Fall River (68% vs. 58%).  And turnout was WAY up in both South Coast cities.  Up 68% in NB, 64% in FR.  That meant Warren won New Bedford by 13,000 votes (Coakley won it by 4,000), and Warren won Fall River by almost 10,000 votes (Coakley won by less than 3,000).  Plus 16,000 net votes in those two cities alone, compared to 2010.
  • In Fitchburg, turnout was more than double.  In 2010 Brown won 59-40 here. Last night Warren won 56-44, a huge swing.  Coakley was -200 votes, Warren +1800.
  • In the city of Worcester Scott Brown lost by only 52-47 in 2010.  Two weeks ago he told the Lowell Sun he hoped to carry Worcester.  Yesterday he lost in Worcester 62-38, a ten-point swing to Warren.  Even better, turnout was up over 50% there, giving Warren a margin of victory well over 16,000 votes.  Coakley took Worcester by fewer than 2,000 votes.  A big, big change.
  • In Springfield, a huge 89% increase in turnout and a better percentage (74% vs. 62%) gave Warren a victory by more than 25,000 votes.  Coakley took Springfield by fewer than 7,000 votes.
  • Turnout up over 60% in Lynn, and a better margin (74% vs. 62%), led to a win by almost 10,000 votes.  Coakley took Lynn by barely 1,000 votes.
  • Turnout more than doubled in Lawrence and Warren won 79% there compared to Coakley’s 66%.  A win by almost 13,000 votes vs. Coakley’s win by 3,000 votes.
  • Finally, in the great city of Lowell, which Scott Brown won 52-47 in 2010, Warren won 59-41. Turnout was up by way more than 50% over last time, and she won by almost 6,000 votes in a city Coakley lost by 1,000.

In a regular November election in a presidential year, turnout was up in Brown strongholds too, but nowhere near as much as in the Dem cities.

Slight improvement in many towns:

  • Looking at the percentages, Warren did about the same as Coakley in many towns.  In as many or more towns, she did a few points better.  This occurred most often in Brown’s strongholds.
  • For example, Warren did much better than Coakley in Bristol County, actually winning Taunton, Swansea, Somerset, Acushnet, Fair Haven, Dartmouth and Westport, some of them handily.  All of those towns went pretty solid for Brown in 2010.  She also won in Falmouth and Brewster, 51-49 in each.  They each went 53-47 Brown last time.  So a four-point bump in each.
  • Warren won 56-44 in Waltham, another place where turnout was up by almost half.  She won by almost 3,000 votes in a city Coakley lost by 23 votes.

That’s the formula, folks.

1. Get out the Democratic vote in the urban areas, liberal suburbs like Newton and Lexington, and the great blue yonder in Western Mass.

2. Run just a bit more competitive in more conservative suburbs and Central Mass. towns. Scott Brown still won plenty of towns but if we get our voters out it doesn’t matter.


49 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Boston Outperofrmed Brookline!

    I’m from Brokline, and have been watching Brookline-Boston since the late 80s. Normally in a competitive race (e.g. Kerry-Weld 1996) the Dem. wins Brookline about 3-1 and Boston 2-1.

    This year, while both are listed as 74-26 victories, Boston actually is 74.19 to Brookline’s 73.69. I never in my life thought that Boston would out-blue Brookline.


    In addition to the hard work done by the campaign (I was helping in Allston, where most campaigns don’t even bother due to high turnover.) and the support of the mayor, much credit goes to having a marajuana law on the ballot. We should put one on every ballot from here on.

  2. Would someone educate me on the Berkshires?

    I’d genuinely like someone to explain. Why is the Western end of the state such a deep blue? I get that there’s the college heavy Amherst and the college-plus-lesbians Northampton. But what about the rest of it? In most of the country rural areas are really red, but that pattern seems not to hold in our state.

    Don’t get me wrong–I’m thrilled that it is how it is, but I’d still love it if someone from that area were to explain it.

    • It's been that way for a while now

      I’m sure someone else knows the history better than I do, but you’re right. Western Mass. (and really all of rural New England) was super-Republican coming out of the Civil War era (when the GOP was in the right, not on the right, on many issues) and for many decades thereafter. Those GOP leanings were reinforced when the urban Irish came to dominate the Democratic Party in Massachusetts in the late 1800′s and early 1900s.

      But in the past couple of decades it’s changed entirely and Western Mass. is almost always blue. I think Western Mass. and parts of Vermont (a state that was until the 1960s a GOP stronghold) are pretty close to the only mostly-white rural areas in the nation that are consistently Democratic. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

      I attribute it to the fact that the GOP’s gone insane, but that doesn’t explain why Western Mass. is so blue and Central Mass. generally red.

    • Berkshire Blue

      We talk to each other. We organize. We maintain city and town Democratic Committees. And we created Berkshire Brigades, the countywide Democratic organization. Oh yeah, we don’t have to put up with lots of talk radio. We listen to NPR. And we have a great little newspaper in the Berkshire Eagle. Further, almost everyone is engaged at the local level, either in government, or with creative and/or artistic organizations and groups. In short, it’s life the way it ought to be, and that leads people to vote Democratic.

    • Geographically speaking, the Berkshires

      does not include Northampton or Amherst. The Berkshires is Berkshire County, the most Western part of the state. It is separated from the the Pioneer Valley–the electorally blue band comprised of Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden Counties–by what we call the hill towns. We are very distinct areas. Our liberalism probably starts with progressive Republicans in the 19th century. In more contemporary times, it starts with ethnicity and continues with the cultural influence of colleges and educational focus.

      The Pioneer Valley is strongly influenced by the number of college people. Education is, I think, the biggest employer in the Pioneer Valley. Aside from Smith College in Northampton, there are UMass and Amherst and Hampshire Colleges in Amherst. There is Mount Holyoke in South Hadley. Springfield College and Western New England University in Springfield. Westfield State University in Westfield. Bay Path College in Longmeadow. Elms College in Chicopee. That’s not including Holyoke, Greenfield, and Springfield Technical Community Colleges. I may be missing something, but you get the picture: 10 four year institutions and three community colleges. There is also a sizable gay, mostly lesbian, community in our area, not just Northampton.

      But the Pioneer Valley’s bluishness goes beyond the college influence. It starts with the Irish immigrants that immigrated to Massachusetts years ago at the turn of the 20th century. In Holyoke, the Irish mayors started in the late 19th century. Boston’s history is similar. It wasn’t until the 1950s that there was a solid string of Irish mayors in Springfield. The Republicans were mostly older Yankee. It was the Irish who started the Democratic trend in our area. The Hampshire County Democratic Party is still well-represented, though not in any exclusive way, by Irish pols. Until Hampshire County commissioners were phased out, there was a strong Irish contingent. These people are liberal and still very much part of the Democratic Party apparatus. The college effect may have preserved the liberal trend in the Pioneer Valley, but it definitely didn’t cause it.

      Granby, my own town, didn’t have a Democratic Party until the 1950s. The people who founded it were 2nd and 3rd general French Canadians and Irish. The town clerk at the time (a nasty, old biddy descended from Samuel Chapin, one of the founding fathers of Springfield) even refused to send in the party registration to the state. Our state legislators had to get involved.

    • I've always looked at it like this:

      It’s Vermont, but in Massachusetts.

      RyansTake   @   Wed 7 Nov 9:14 PM
  3. I think Ralph Nader said

    Western Mass., Vermont and rural Connecticut is all that’s really left of “small town life” in America the way it used to be, with real participatory democracy.

  4. Berkshires have moderate Republican roots too

    For those too young to remember – moderate Republican Congressman Silvo Conte was a fixture in the 1st CD. Decent and caring man who actually helped constituents. I believe that his legacy still lives in that area keeping it deep blue even while he served as a Republican.

  5. Wealthy burbs scared of Warren?

    Slightly provocative post title, but glancing at the map the areas where Coakley won, but Warren failed to improve on her margin or even lost ground tend to be wealthy liberal suburbs. She did no better than Coakley in the string of blue town, such as Brookline and Newton, mentioned above, but also places like, Lincoln, Concord, Acton, etc. In some especially wealthy places, such as Weston, Wellesley and Wayland, her margins were worse. Wellesley and Boxoborough actually flipped to Brown, the only towns in the state to do so, other than tiny Monroe.

    Trading some skittish 1%ers* for much stronger performance in typically Democratic working class places was a very good move. Warren’s middle-class, or even lower-middle, pitch resonated better than any scrappy image and/or truck that Brown could produce. That’s why she won.

    * I don’t actually like Occupy’s description of wealth and power in this country which is simultaneously overly broad and overly restrictive, depending on the issue, but it is a convenient shorthand here.

    • Not scared--just already fully mobilized.

      Before this year, Boston, Worcester, Lowell, etc. were sleeping giants. Brookline, Newton etc. were already-awake little guys. In other words, in these wealthy suburbs the Democrats were already organized & mobilized in previous elections–and in general wealthy Dems will go vote on their own without needing someone to sign them up and remind them to vote. But Elizabeth Warren for once put serious money and effot into organizing the cities. (As noted above, most campaigns barely bother with my liberal but high-turnover neighborhood)

      This election showed that there are a lot of votes to be won in the cities for those who are willing to do the hard work.

  6. How much better than 2-1

    in a high-income suburban town do you want?

    In the 2010 special most of the lower-average-income suburbs were going 2-1 for Brown and these “wealthy” towns were 2-1 Coakley. Hard to go up from there. Cat-servant’s right that they were performing at peak, in terms of percentage, last time. Warren held her own, didn’t go DOWN in any of them really, and turned out more Dems in those towns for a larger vote margin, and turned out lots more Dems in the urban strongholds.

    I willl say, from living in Newton, the GOP votes here (not all, but many) tend to come from the lower-income parts of town where Dems are seen as elitists. Scott lost those areas too, but by less than in most of the more affluent neighborhoods.

    I would not make too much of the “flips” in Boxboro and Wellesley. Coakley only took Boxboro by 54 votes and Wellesley by 12. Warren lost in Wellesley by 45 votes and in Boxboro by under 200. Not that big a dropoff.

    In Monroe Warren lost 27-26, Coakley had won it 20-19. Yes, more people on an MBTA bus right now than voted for Senate in Monroe.

    The 2010 map and 2012 map are very similar in terms of red vs. blue. Warren flipped a few towns, notably Lowell, Fitchburg, southern Bristol County, and Falmouth/Brewster, but the big story is higher turnout in Dem strongholds.

    • I agree that flips are overrated

      Going from 51% to 59% in a town is a much bigger deal than going from 49 to 51.

      I guess I could have phrased my point more positively by saying that Warren found a way to appeal to working class voters that Coakley either turned off or simply failed to turn out. I disagree with the analysis that the liberal burbs were already maxed out. Patrick, whose overall margin was about the same to proportionally better in these towns, to say nothing of Obama.

      What you said about Newton maybe true, but if you look at towns that are uniformly very wealthy, Warren’s performance was very slightly down or flat. Look at Weston verses neighboring Waltham. Both went for Brown in 2010, but he improved in Weston, while Waltham swung seven points to Warren.

      • Let's break it down a bit

        Patrick is an electric speaker. Warren got better as it went along but can’t really compare.

        Patrick won a LOT of towns in 2006, a big Dem year. Kerry Healey was not a great candidate, had the “Romney stench” since he was so unpopular when leaving office, and did herself no favors with her creepy criminal in a garage ads. And then you had Mihos. In 2010 Patrick was an incumbent, the John Walsh team did very well for Mass. Dems in an otherwise GOP year and you had Cahill. Warren did as well in Newton as Patrick did in 2010, and basically the same in Weston too.

        Obama in 2008 was an inspirational candidate riding a wave of anti-Bush and anti-GOP feeling. This year, since the economy is still sluggish and he’s the incumbent, I expected him to drop a bit in places where they tend GOP but voted for him in 2008 because of the Bush shitshow. I expected him not to drop in places like Newton, where nobody but the hardcore GOP types think Romney would be better. I think the results bore that out.

        In towns like Newton Democratic Presidential candidates will always do well these days since the national GOP is flat-out scary to people here. But there is some segment (in Newton it’s about 5%) that will see a Scott Brown or a Charlie Baker as less problematic.

        Newton borders Weston but they’re very different. Newton is urbane, densely populated, and has more transplants than usual for a Boston suburb, including many from the NYC area. There’s a large Jewish population and much of the town trends liberal on all issues.

        Weston is woodsy and was historically a super-wealthy WASP and GOP enclave. The residents tend to be socially liberal, as Mass. Republicans were historically, but more fiscally conservative. It’s gotten more Democratic as the GOP has gone off to the fringe. If people there thought Brown was pro-choice, or close enough, that could swing some voters who prefer lower taxes on their high income. Probably some folks saw themselves in her “millionaires and billionaires” lines. But Warren didn’t really drop by much there, maybe a point or two, which could be due to just about anything.

        In 2010 Brown was a telegenic relative unknown who, in over a three-week period in an odd election season, used a faux-folksy charm to seduce a large enough percentage to win. In 2012 he was a well-funded incumbent who was very popular when the race began. Obama and Patrick never beat an incumbent.

        Running better than Coakley in some key places, having huge urban turnout, and holding pretty much steady everywhere else is good enough for me. Obviously, since she won. If she runs again in six years, I could see her doing a few points better here but I’m happy with these results.

        • I meant compared with 2010 Patrick, not 2006

          None of this is meant to be an attack on Warren, just noting that compared with Patrick, who won by a same margin, she did better in some parts of the state and under performed him elsewhere, which is inevitable. Brown went out of his way to try to appeal to the “job creators” as he calls them, so it makes sense that message had at least some minimal resonance.

  7. Outperformed Coakley in Dracut

    In formerly Democratic but now right-leaning Dracut, a blue collar/farming town, Warren was slaughtered. But not as bad as Coakley was.

    In 2012 Brown received 63.8% of the Dracut vote. This compares to 70.1% in 2010. That is a significant gain of 6.3 percentage points.

    I tried to get the Warren people to make a visit to Dracut where she could have gained another 5 points easily by highlighting Brown’s votes on education or equal pay. No success. I also believe that the Women’s Vote “independent expenditure” robocalls on the abortion issue were insensitive to the fact that the majority of Catholic women here are pro-life. A robocall on the issue of birth control coverage would have been more effective.

    I’d hazard a guess that if you look at percentages of white Catholics in Worcester or Lowell or Brockton parts of the state, it will be much higher than the percentages of Catholics in Western mass.

    Everyone who posted, please state the difference between Obama’s percentage and Liz Warren’s in your town. I will chime in with the number for Dracut if you do, which will be shocking.

    • Newton

      Warren 29,868 67% +14,834, +34%
      Brown 15,034 33%

      Obama 32,099 71% +19,945, +44%
      Romney 12,154 27%

      So she obviously ran behind the President here. Some of that is due to Brown’s appearing like a moderate-type Republican, and the national ticket seeming like the face of the GOP in the rest of the country.

      • Class trumped race

        Romney got 53.6% in Dracut, Brown got 63.8% — 10.2% more.
        These percentages are looking just at the numbers for republicans and democrats, I did not include third parties in the totals as they were not really significant numbers.

        So you got a 4 point spread there… in Dracut the spread was 10 points. Despite the conservatism, a lot of Dracut residents didn’t want to rich guy, at least that is my explanation for the large difference.

    • Natick

      Obama: 62.23% 11600
      Romney: 36.25% 6757
      O: +25.98% (4843)

      W: 53.91% 10042
      B: 46.09% 8586
      W: +7.82% (1456)

      Quite a big difference here…

  8. Menino matters

    A lot of the turnout was due to the presidential line on the ballot, true. But having Menino truly backing you makes a real difference.

    sabutai   @   Wed 7 Nov 5:49 PM
    • I think Menino was especially helpful in this race

      given the dynamics of an allegedly likable regular guy on the Republican side. Having the mayor side enthusiastically back “Professor Warren” helped defuse Brown’s attack on her as some kind of elite outsider and instead convince people she was who she actually is: someone who will fight for us in Washington.

  9. Why are the suburbs

    so conservative?

    My town went for Brown by 8 points, but we’re almost always irrelevant. But we don’t have much Republican organization. My town is filled with people who thought they were moving to a suburb. But we have a lot of cops and self-employed people in the trades. Luckily, these people are not like the tea party types larger suburban towns see.

    Still, what causes suburbs to be more conservative? Are they all the same? What’s the deal?

    • I think it is a couple of things

      It is a bit of a cliche, but I do think that having a mortgage and paying real estate taxes causes one to notice the tax bill bite more.

      Two, self-employed tend to REALLY notice the tax bite, because they get hit hard on the payroll tax, and see the impact of things like unemployment taxes that are usually not noticed by the non-self employed.

      Three, cops, firefighters and people in the trades are or maybe were, I think, less likely to respond to culture-war liberalism than to economic liberalism. That is, the attachment of some of these folks to Democrats weakened because of the various culture war issues. That’s why these issues are called wedges. I actually don’t think that this is as big a factor as some might others may argue.

      Four, and this, I think, is the biggie, at least where I grew up (NYC– where neighborhoods like you describe are also reliably Republican, though not necessarily the lunatics). I think that this group became intensely alienated from the Democratic Party in the 60s and early 70s, and this alienation has never really been rectified. Not because of the rise of cultural issues like abortion, but because of the class divisions that opened up at that time. In my very Republican neighborhood, Democrats were the party of the kids from Scarsdale that protested at Colombia, rather than the kids who got drafted to Vietnam. Likewise, Democrats seemed to embrace these kids from Scarsdale when they antagonized working class people working as cops. I also think that political affiliation AND law enforcement as a profession tends to be passed down in families, and so this breach lingers long after the original offenders and offendees pass from the scene.

      Lastly, until Clinton, Democrats suffered from the reputation of being soft on crime, which is not appealing either to cops or to the demographic from which many police officers come.

      • Dad makes a lot of good points

        but I think a lot of it comes down to race. It’s really hard when you grow up in an all white town and go to all white schools not to be racist. When NPR asked midwest Republicans at the state fair about the most important issues to them, they talked about the large number of people who are dependent on government, who just take from the government, that regular hard working people have to support. This is Republican code for people of color on welfare. It’s Romney’s 47%. That’s why the lie put out by Republicans early in the Presidential election about Obama gutting the welfare work requirements resonated so well with conservative Republicans. The demographics of the suburbs just favor Republicans. Fortunately for the Dems that demographic doesn’t reflect the nation. As Rush Limbaugh said today, “I’ve a feeling we’re being outnumbered.”

    • Depends what you mean by suburb

      Newton is a suburb. So is Framingham, although it’s much more socioeconomically diverse than what people usually think of when they say suburb.

      I think it is more what I consider exurbs that are conservative — the Rte. 495 belt, say. I view places like that as being where people are more likely to value private space over public space. It is often why they are willing to put up with long commutes –to have a larger home, larger yard, valuing more distance between themselves and their neighbors over the close quarters of urban living. Privacy and quiet more than easy access to the cultural offerings of the inner city.

      I realize this is an over generalization, plenty of people like large quiet private space and are also liberals. But it would make sense to me that people who value fabulous shared public space — who live in small apartments so they can walk outside and take advantage of great urban attractions — might be more inclined toward the “we’re all in this together” messaging of the Democrats than those who have chosen exurban living.

  10. Suburbs can be isolated...

    …and are by definition solidly middle class. There was probably some intentional white flight at least historically and people probably feel that they do OK without direct government assistance. That’s my interpretation of the attitude, but should not be construed as indicating I agree with it.

  11. I must strenuously object to a comment by Jim Gosger.

    In an otherwise good comment there is the sentence, “It’s really hard when you grow up in an all white town and go to all white schools not to be racist.” EXCUSE ME! That describes how I grew up (maybe without taking the word ‘all’ too literally, but definitely very close). I made a reference to some racial factor in my own comment above too with regards to white flight, but this sounds like attacking those who stereotype with another stereotype.

    • I'm sorry, but ...

      I’m sorry, Christopher, but some of the attitudes your comments reflect support Jim’s contention. For example, you continue to deny that the voterID movement is racist, in spite of evidence to the contrary. I suggest that a large and unconscious aspect of your reaction is that nobody you know has ever been harmed by such policies — that’s what happens when you grow up in an all-white town and go to all-white schools.

      In my view, your fervor to “leave behind” the lessons of our racist (and sexist) past is largely fueled by your cultural isolation from the victims that discrimination.

  12. Same as Coakley?

    I find it striking the number and size of the towns where Warren’s support matched Coakley’s. It suggests that people vote party rather than person — as if we were indeed in a parliamentary system.

    • A lot of people do

      but it doesn’t explain Kerry getting much higher % vs. Beatty, etc. A lot depends on how effective the individual candidates are, and Scott Brown (despite some strategic blunders this time) is formidable.

      It seems Warren had a couple of advantages this time: Presidential election year boosts turnout, especially in cities, and she ran a much better campaign than Coakley.

      That was partially offset by Brown’s incumbency. Some moderates may have fallen for the “vote with my party half of the time” stuff, and figured he’d been there three years and the sky didn’t fall too badly. Some REALLY low information voters I know will vote for the one they’ve heard of, which generally means the incumbent.

  13. I would LOVE...

    … if some smart numbers guy with excel skillz (like how I used the z there? Makes me cool!) and some time on her/his hands could compare turnout numbers in key areas (Democratic strongholds, but also a few big GOP strongholds too) between 2006, 08, 10 special, 10 general, 2012.

    We all knew that 2010 special was a total anomaly. No organizing = poor turnout. Brown had all that tea party help coming in from all over the country, while Coakley didn’t bother trying to ramp up her field campaign until the week before when it was practically over. But to me what’s exciting is that 2012 people talked about huge turnout in an election in which there was virtually no GOTV in Massachusetts. It was all geared towards phone banks and canvasses outside the state. I’d be curious to see the difference in some key places between excitement vs. excitement plus organizing. I feel it could be striking overall.

    Then again, the total vote count for the state tell a different story. Obama got only 10,000 more votes than 2008, while Romney increased 70,000 over McCain. I wonder if strongholds held steady or changed substantially and losses were elsewhere.

    Just some food for thought.

    • I can't say I agree here

      But to me what’s exciting is that 2012 people talked about huge turnout in an election in which there was virtually no GOTV in Massachusetts. It was all geared towards phone banks and canvasses outside the state.

      The Warren campaign knocked on many more doors than any previous Massachusetts Senate campaign. I went out more than 10 times myself, which is more than I did in 2008 for Obama, when I traveled to several swing states to help.

      I can tell you that, for 2010 special, the Globe helpfully posted turnout. It was 43% in Boston, low 50s in Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline. 38% in Lowell (which Brown took in 2010) and Lynn, 28% in Lawrence, 38% in Fall River, 35% in New Bedford, 35% in Springfield, 42% in Worcester.

      This time I don’t have exact numbers but virtually all of those cities have to be at least in the 60s except perhaps Lawrence, which was probably mid-to-high 50s, still double last time. Turnout up somewhat in liberal suburbs like Newton as well.

      Brown strongholds includes a larger number of towns but with small populations. If you look at his strongest turf, near his home in Wrentham and up near Boxford (he won big in Central Mass. but many of the towns are very small), turnout was high (high 60s and 70s) in both elections.

      So in 2010 Brown turned out his voters, we didn’t. This time we did and we won.

      • sorry...

        I mistyped. I meant there was no GOTV in 2008. 2012 had HUGE GOTV in Massachusetts.

        My point was what was the difference between no GOTV in a high turnout election vs. huge GOTV in a high turnout election. Your point below about the south shore and central mass say to me that if some moderate areas flipped, GOTV had a monster impact even for Obama in 2012.

    • Just looking at the maps

      Then again, the total vote count for the state tell a different story. Obama got only 10,000 more votes than 2008, while Romney increased 70,000 over McCain. I wonder if strongholds held steady or changed substantially and losses were elsewhere.

      There were a lot of town on the South Shore, in Central Mass., and in the North Andover-Georgetown-Boxford area that went for Obama by a few points in 2008 and for Romney this time, a 6- or 8-point drop. In Andover, Obama won 56-43 in ’08, 50-49 in ’12, a 6-point drop. In 2008 McCain won Halifax 50-48; this year Romney won there 67-32, a large swing.

      I think there are plenty of GOP leaners in such places (and across the country) who voted Obama in 2008 because the GOP brand was in the toilet, but didn’t vote for him again because he didn’t “solve everything.”

      On the plus side, Obama got 12,000 more votes in Boston this tiime, 3,000 more votes in Lawrence, 2,000 more in Lowell, 3,000 more in Lynn, 4,000 more in Springfield. So it seems he lost some weak suburban and rural support, but came out with virtually the same margin due to increased urban turnout.

  14. You are probably right Tom...

    …that few if any people I know have been harmed by some of these actions, but I continue to insist that few, if any that I know (certainly myself included) are themselves racist (though I’ve heard some unsettling things around my town lately even as it becomes a little though noticibly more diverse than when I was growing up). Ignorant may be a slightly better term (though I’d be inclined to argue that a bit too) in this context, but I DO NOT hate non-white people!

    • "Implicit" racism doesn't require "hate"

      Christopher, I absolutely get and know that you do not hate non-white people, I’ve never meant to suggest that. I also don’t mean that you’re ignorant. I like and respect you and enjoy your commentary here.

      I mean, instead, that a more insidious kind of racism infects almost all of us. It shows itself, in me, as a vaguely uncomfortable feeling I get when I walk through an overwhelmingly black neighborhood that I don’t feel when I walk through a similarly all-white neighborhood. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to deal with it, my black friends tell me that they feel the same in reverse, and that simply acknowledging it is a big step forward.

      One result of this implicit racism is an insensitivity to how various policies affect minority communities. It shows itself as a difference between knowing and feeling things.

      It has taken me years of living with powerful and ardent feminists whom I love and consider close friends (and of course my wife) to appreciate the similar implicit sexism that many feminists argue every male shares. They argue that most (some say all) men simply do not conceive of what the world feels like when any late-night walkabout is accompanied by a pang of anxiety. Some may know about it, but almost no men understand the feeling. The same is true when a group of men get loud and boisterous. Women experience situations like this differently from men. It doesn’t mean that men “hate” women — it means that most men are literally clueless about how it feels to be a woman in that setting.

      In my younger days, when I was still facing my own homophobia, I experienced something vaguely similar when I inadvertently found myself in a gay bar (this was in the late 1970s) and realized that I was being “checked out” by most of the men there. Nobody did anything or said anything inappropriate — that didn’t matter, I was still freaked out.

      It is this implicit racism and sexism that this nauseating GOP campaign pandered to and, I believe, intentionally inflamed. I note, for example, an AP Poll that slipped under the radar here. From the piece (emphasis mine):

      Fifty-one percent of those polled explicitly expressed negative attitudes towards blacks, compared to 48 percent who did in 2008. The AP also measured “implicit racial attitudes” and found that 56 percent of Americans exhibited anti-black attitudes, up from 48 percent in 2008.

      In measuring explicit racial attitudes towards blacks, the survey asked whether respondents agreed with statements about different racial groups and asked respondents whether they felt words like “friendly,” “hardworking” and “violent” described blacks, whites and Hispanics.

      To measure implicit racial attitudes, the survey showed respondents a photo of a black, white or Hispanic person, and then asked them to rate their feelings toward a Chinese character shown immediately after the first picture. According to the AP, studies have before shown that respondents transfer their feelings from the first photo onto the character.

      That change didn’t just happen — the right wing and GOP spent hundreds of millions of dollars and enormous political capital to bring about.

      I’m enormously gratified that American voters largely rejected this insidious tactic and elected Barack Obama. At the same time, I note that Mitt Romney captured an astounding sixty one percent of white votes — he lost in large part because demographics have changed enough that this wasn’t enough to win (unlike George W. Bush in 2004).

      I suggest that we still have a very long way to go before we declare ourselves to be a “color blind” society and dismantle the many protections we have put in place to protect our minority communities.

      • Thanks, Tom

        for so articulately explaining what I should have said.

        Christopher, like you I grew up in an all white town went to all white schools and for a long time worked in a segregated setting. It’s only when that changed that I had to examine the more “insidious kind of racism” that Tom so well described. It’s something that I have had to deal with and work at explicitly for some time. I meant no offense toward you or anyone else.

      • I'm not sure this is racism

        I mean, instead, that a more insidious kind of racism infects almost all of us. It shows itself, in me, as a vaguely uncomfortable feeling I get when I walk through an overwhelmingly black neighborhood that I don’t feel when I walk through a similarly all-white neighborhood. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to deal with it, my black friends tell me that they feel the same in reverse, and that simply acknowledging it is a big step forward.

        One result of this implicit racism is an insensitivity to how various policies affect minority communities. It shows itself as a difference between knowing and feeling things.

        About ten years ago I dated a woman from Africa who lived in Harlem. I used to walk through there regularly at 2 and 3 AM, and I felt the same uncomfortable feeling. I gave this a lot of thought and I don’t think it was racism on my part.

        I didn’t think any of the people I passed walking those streets were inferior, or necessarily dangerous or hostile to me. I did think that there was nobody around who looked like me, and we have a 400-year-old history of racial discrimination in this country. It’s not unreasonable to think someone in Harlem has a problem (probably with justification) with people who look like me.

        So here I am, alone late at night. 999 of 1,000 people could see me walking down their street and not think twice about it. But if I catch one person who’s got a grievance with white America at the wrong moment (pissed about something else, a little drunk, just got hassled by Giuliani’s cops) and associates me with that grievance, maybe I’ve got a problem.

        Given the racial history of this country and that neighborhood, I don’t think it’s unjustified, or racist, to fear that some single African-American person out of several hundred thousand there might show me hostility. I’ve felt the same way driving through Alabama with a Massachusetts plate. I’m sure 99.9999999% of the population there won’t harass me in any way, but one Johnny Reb nutjob is all it takes.

        Obviously that’s not ideal and we need to keep working so everyone feels as comfortable as possible everywhere. But I’m trying to sort out what is and isn’t implicitly prejudiced.

  15. Just to be clear to both Tom and Jim...

    …I have never intended to suggest that we live in a color blind society. There is unfortunately simply too much evidence to suggest otherwise. My philosophy has been that such a society SHOULD be the ultimate goal and the way to get there is to force ourselves as best we can to be color blind individually. I’d like to think I’ve been successful at it in my own dealings and on occasion I know I have been when I can’t even remember the race of someone I’ve encountered earlier. I don’t mean to sound holier than thou and I can see prejudice (which is a much softer word than racism IMO), but even the neighborhood difference thing I do not recall a time when I thought about the racial makeup of where I was.

    • It was your "strenuous objection" I responded to

      Perhaps “prejudiced” was a better word for Jim to use than “racist”, but I don’t think that changes the substance of his comment that you objected strenuously to (“I must strenuously object to a comment by Jim Gosger”).

      It seems to me that your objection does “suggest that we live in a color blind society” — you claimed Jim was attacking a stereotype with another stereotype. The reason I quoted the AP piece was to observe that it is NOT a stereotype. Because we are not yet a color blind society, I think Jim’s point remains very well-taken.

      Even if it doesn’t apply to you (someone who grew up in an all-white town and an all-white school), I hope we can agree that it does apply to a great many people (the AP study says a majority of people).

  16. Doesn't change the substance of the larger point...

    …and yes, prejudiced would have been better and I would not have pounced as hard. The thing about stereotypes is that they live on a grain of truth and it sounded like he was in effect saying, “All people who grow up in lily-white towns are racists,” which I took as an inappropriate stereotype as pretty much any sentence about people beginning with the word ‘all’ would be. In my own circles such attitudes are rare enough that when I do encounter them I am shocked that someone I know would express such prejudices and I have been known to call them on it.

    • I agree with you Christopher.

      I think that mostly we live in a world that appreciates diversity. I live in a mostly white town. Most of the people I know are not racist, however I did have an experience the other night while standing out for E Warren at the polls. A truck drove by and the guy inside gave me the most evil hateful look and flipped me off. The first thing that crossed my mind was skinhead. I forgot all about those people, because generally, I don’t know any, I don’t think. That’s the scary thing about them, they can mingle in the community and appear like everyone else until you start talking about something that riles them up. It was scary, and actually gave me a slightly more slanted view of my town. I can’t be sure he was even one of them, but I would imagine they would prefer to live in mostly white towns. I can understand the fear that might provoke in minorities. They seem like such evil hateful people. It’s so bizarre. Anyway, I think most white people are not racist. I think there are still a small percentage of extremely racist people who end up casting the dark cloud of racism over all white people when that shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Which is why it irritates me too when somervilletom keeps persisting that most white people are racist. I don’t believe it for a second.

      • How do you and Christopher explain the AP poll, then?

        Upthread, I cited an AP Poll that found that 51% of those polled “explicitly expressed negative attitudes towards blacks” and 56% “exhibited anti-black attitudes”.

        How do you and Christopher explain this data?

      • Degrees of racism

        There are degrees of prejudice. Some people would feel uncomfortable walking into a store where 10% of the people were black. Others might feel uncomfortable if 25% or more were black. I think a lot less people would feel comfortable in a store where 99% of the people were black. Same probably applies to male/female though (with different tolerance levels), so it’s not quite racism, it’s more like the amount you’re in tune with visible differences which you think matter in some way compared to the people around you. If 99% of the people were left-handed, nobody would care – but because most people consider race to be something that matters (more than ethnicity, I think), it brings up this discomfort.

        I think that this feeling may not always be obvious to someone as racism. Sometimes they just perceive a place to be “not safe” – not due to any crime they see taking place, but because of the people they see in that place. I’ll never forget being in Hamilton Ontario about 20 years ago, I walked through a certain neighborhood, and later told a local that I had done so. He was shocked – turns out I walked through what they considered a dangerous neighborhood. I didn’t perceive it as that because everyone there was white, and the common perception in the US is that non-white occupants are the signal for a bad neighborhood.

  17. The AP stats are uncomfortably high for 2012...

    …but still no excuse to stereotype whites as racist.

  18. and I'm still not convinced...

    …that they match my own experience within my circles.

  19. Plus in my mind...

    …words like “unconscious” and “implicit” may go with prejudice but not racism. Racism by definition is the very conscious and explicit attitude of I’m inherently a superior human being because of my race.

  20. A couple more things about the poll.

    It suggested the President could lose based on the data which obviously didn’t happen. Also if I were solicited to participate in that poll I would either be answering a lot of no comment or not completed it. Individuals can be hardworking, friendly, or violent; races cannot be. Plus how can one have feelings about a picture of a stranger as per the Chinese experiment?

    • I tend to agree

      The photo experiment seems strange to me.

      I noted in the AP article that explicit prejudice was at 79% among Republicans and 32% among Democrats. They said both parties showed a majority with implicit prejudice, but I’d really like to have a better understanding of the photo experiment before I credit that.

      In any event, most of the Democrats are – in their conscious mind – rejecting whatever unconscious prejudices they might have. 4/5 of Republicans are giving them free rein. I would also add this is a national survey, and there are, ahem, some regional differences on this issue.

      For decades GOP strategists have presented their voters with a “bogeyman.” In the 70s and 80s it was largely African-Americans (the Southern Strategy, Reagan’s fictitious Cadillac-driving welfare queens). Perhaps with 9/11 there was a drop in that, as Al Qaeda and, by extension, all Muslims or Arabs, took over the top spot.

      But anti-black attitudes didn’t disappear on the right. Obama’s political rise brought them back, all the more so because his unique name and background tied in so neatly with the Muslim terrorist bogeyman theme. They’re so unhinged about this guy (who as Charlie Pierce points out is basically yesterday’s moderate Republican) that all black people have seen a backlash-by-association.

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