The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Congressional Update

The Massachusetts conservative website Red Mass Group has been running a series of analysis recently of the 2010 Western Mass races for U.S. Congress. This is what they have to say, with my own two cents thrown in as well. The First Congressional District is currently represented by Democrat John Olver, who is being challenged by Republican Bill Gunn and third party candidate Michael Engel.


Prediction: John Olver (D) 70%, Bill Gunn (R) 25%, Michael Engel (I) 5%.
Unfortunately, this is not a good district for a Republican and Bill Gunn has neither the financial resources nor the history of electoral success at this time to have a credible chance to win.

Here's my analysis of their analysis - It is true that Olver will be hard to beat in this very liberal district, but I don't think Gunn's prospects are as bleak as they claim. While it's true that Gunn lacks name recognition and experience, indications are that this is a year when being an outsider can be a virtue. Gunn will also get a boost from third party candidate Michael Engel, a candidate who, incredibly enough, is running to the left of Olver. Therefore liberals who want to cast a protest vote in this anti-incumbent year, but who are repelled by Gunn's tea partyish views, can still desert Olver and cast a protest vote for Engel without compromising their leftist ideology. So if Engel ends up riding the anti-incumbent wave enough to reach double digits, Gunn may well find himself within striking distance of an upset victory.

To read the full report on District One click here.

Surprisingly the Second District is the more hotly contested of the Western Mass contests, with longtime incumbent Richard Neal facing two strong possible GOP challengers. Here's what Red Mass Group has to say:


Republican Primary Prediction: Tom Wesley 62% Jay Fleitman 38%
General Election Prediction: Richard Neal (D) 59%, Tom Wesley (R) 41%.

The Massachusetts 2nd Congressional district has been trending more Republican over time. The towns in south Worcester County become more Republican and a larger percentage of the district. In 2008, it voted slightly more Republican than the 3rd congressional district, formerly held by Peter Blute (R). Both Wesley and Fleitman have quality resumes and are running real campaigns. The Republican nominee will have raised six figures, done a fair amount of retail politics, and caught a good year in 2010. Unfortunately, Neal's near $3 Million on hand will prove difficult to overcome. I expect a decent showing, but not victory at this time.

My analysis of their analysis: Before Neal can be challenged there will be a September primary where either Fleitman or Wesley will be eliminated. I agree with Red Mass Group that Wesley is probably ahead, but not by the nearly two to one margin they claim. Whoever wins, it is important that the primary leave no hard feelings, because the GOP will have to be fully united to have any chance to oust as firmly entrenched an incumbent as Neal. The real trick for the GOP nominee is to cut significantly into Neal's powerbase in Springfield, where the city's corrupt Democrat Party machine is certain to deliver a lopsided electoral landslide on Neal's behalf. A similar landslide is likely for Neal in Northampton by the non-corrupt but partisanly passionate Democrat organization, although if Northamptonite Fleitman is the nominee he may be able to cut into that a little as a hometown favorite. Whoever the nominee is, the GOP's goal will be to try to keep Neal's expected Springfield/Hamp landslides to a low enough margin so that GOP victories in the Republican leaning suburbs can compensate for their big city losses. It's not an impossible feat - Scott Brown carried the district in the special election in January, despite being crushed in both Springfield and Northampton, by successfully carrying nearly all of the suburbs and hilltowns.

To read the entire Second District report click here.

Speaking of Scott Brown, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw on the bus the other day a person proudly displaying a Martha Coakley sticker. I thought everyone scraped those off in embarrassment long ago.

Here's a song about Amherst set amidst the power lines of Pelham.


Whitney said...

Brilliant political analysis as usual Tom.

Anonymous said...

On the 2nd Massachusetts. Richie Neal is not Martha Coakley. Love him or hate him, he enjoys more support throughout his district than she ever did. His opponents are unlikely, even under ideal conditions to pull a Scott Brown there.

The thoughts about Springfield and Noho are true, but there is a large number of people, even some right-leaning ones, that support Neal in the suburbs.

Moreover, while his voting record may mirror Nancy Pelosi's, he has been on record for being more conservative than the stereotypical Democrat, if you will. If I were in the RCCC, I would not waste my money on any race in the 413. The best hope is the Massachusetts 10th out on the Cape, ironic, as it was once represented by Gerry Studds.

Mike Henry said...

I've been following the House of Representatives race closer than the Senate's.