Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Patrick Team Announces Two Community Meetings

The following announcement crossed my inbox today, and somehow I managed to see it amongst the massive spam deluge I've been getting recently. Governor-elect Deval Patrick's transition team is announcing two community meetings this Friday, December 1st:

Higher Education Community Meeting
When: Friday, December 1, 2006, 10:30 am
Where: UMass-Amherst Campus Center
What: Governor-elect Deval Patrick addresses members of the Higher Education Working Group and the public before community meeting

Workforce Development Community Meeting
When: Friday, December 1, 2006, 9:30 am
Where: Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, 41 Berkeley St., Boston
What: Members of the Workforce Development Working Group hear from the public on the issue of workforce development
I'm glad to see that Gov-elect Patrick is continuing to reach out to citizens, as he did during his campaign, but I do have one suggestion/complaint. If the Patrick team really wants to bring people back into civic life, wouldn't it be nice if these events were held at a time when working people could go to them? Not everyone can take a morning off to get to Amherst or Boston. That said, they suggest that people who can't attend should submit their suggestions via the transition team website. That's fine, I suppose, but what about those of us who are interested in what goes on at those meetings? What I'd like to see is a record of these meetings -- agenda, minutes, etc -- posted on the website. Let's all see what kind of suggestions come out of this, so that those who have to work can feel like they're a part of the discussion.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Picture of the Day

Today's Herald had an interesting picture of outgoing Gov Mitt Romney's "Homophobia today, homophobia tomorrow and homophobia forever" rally at the statehouse yesterday. Check it out:

I know it's an illusion, but I can't help but see white pointy hats peeking out from the back row. Fitting, if you ask me.

Friday, November 17, 2006

McGrory: Say it ain't so, Mitt!

Globe columnist Brian McGrory's world has come crashing down around him after he discovered that Mitt Romney has gone back on his word that he wouldn't cut funds for homeless shelters. He has seen the world through Romney-colored glasses for so long now that this is causing him some serious cognitive dissonance. Witness:

I have a hard time believing the guy would so blatantly go back on his word.

I have a hard time believing he even knows these homeless funds were cut. Once he learns, I think he'll put them back.

Either I'm a fool, or our governor is a fraud.
Either? Brian, if it's taken you this long to realize that Mitt Romney is a fraud, I think I have some reading for you to catch up on.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mitt Romney's Two-Pronged Media Strategy

Outgoing Governor Mitt Romney seems to be adopting a two step media strategy as he runs for President in 2008.

Step 1) Denigrate the local media as hopelessly partisan.

Romney has added a new laugh line to his stump speech recently:

We have two factions of media in Boston. On the one hand, we have the Hillary-loving, Ted Kennedy apologists. And on the other, we have the liberals.
Seth Gitell, former spokesman for Boston Mayor Tom Menino, thinks there's more to it than just another 'cattle rancher in a vegetarian convention' joke. Here's what he had to say:
The governor is getting worried that Deval Patrick will soon takeover the keys of the State House and Patrick's Democratic staffers will have access to all the executive agencies and all their files. This is, in short, a treasure trove for a Democratic opposition research operative. I forsee some of the above mentioned reporters getting those tough, national stories, and Romney is trying to proactively discredit that.
(via Universal Hub)

Step 2) Get together with your buddies and buy a media outlet.

MyDD noted today that Romney's Bain Capital just bought radio giant Clearchannel Communications along with Thomas H Lee Partners. Remember that Romney's business partners at Bain have already been seeding early primary states for Mitt through his Commonwealth PAC. Are they now buying over 1100 radio stations for him?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bad Reasons To Oppose Toll Elimination

There are good reasons to oppose taking the tolls down, most importantly because we use those revenues for maintaining the Turnpike. Today, though, the Associated Press reported on what I consider to be the worst possible objection to the plan. From the article:

On Tuesday the heads of Teamsters Union Local 127 and United Steelworkers of America District 4 pledged to use "every legal tactic" to block the plan, which would cost hundreds of union jobs.
I appreciate that the very purpose of unions is to protect peoples' jobs, but I have to say that the reason that we have tolls is not to provide employment for toll takers. Frankly, my preference is for more dedicated Fast Lanes over staffed toll booths anyway. That said, objecting to the removal of tolls on the Pike because it might cost toll collector jobs is like protecting the income tax because you're worried that the Department of Revenue might go out of business. It's completely missing the point.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What is the Difference Between Springfield, MA and Springfield, MO?

They share the same name and both have roughly 125,000 residents, but the residents of Springfield, Missouri just got a new nanotech research lab, care of Nantero, which is based in Woburn. Why there? Here's what the company's president had to say:

Nantero set up a major research laboratory in Springfield, Mo., in response to an aggressive bid by that state's politicians.

"We didn't see the opportunity to do something similar at the same cost and on the same time scale in Massachusetts," said Nantero's president, Greg Schmergel.
One of my great hopes for the incoming Patrick administration is that they will do more to try to keep businesses from moving out of state. I don't expect them to win every battle, but I do expect them to be able to compete with other parts of the country. When I read things like this article, though, it shows just how much work they'll have to do. Here's another excerpt:
"The welcome mat really isn't out in Massachusetts," said Matthew Nordan, president of Lux Research, a New York company that studies the global nanotech industry.
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative has a nanotechnology initiative, but it's a pale shadow of the more aggressive efforts in other states, Nordan said.
I do understand that some other states have advantages over Massachusetts -- weather, cost of living, etc -- that we can't control. Still, that's no excuse for not aggressively trying to get businesses that start here to expand in-state. What are these other states doing that we are either not willing or able to do?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Question of the Evening

Why does Blogger go down the very day I come back from hiatus?

I guess I should consider myself lucky it was up at all even this morning.

Who Voted?

One thing that I haven't heard many people talk about in the wake of Deval Patrick's historic victory was the fact that exit polls showed more Democrats voting in Massachusetts than Independents this year. Here are the percentage breakdowns from CNN, with the results from 2002 (PDF) and 1998 for comparison:


As Christy Mihos was quick to remind everyone this campaign season, unenrolled voters make up half of the registered voters in Massachusetts. That only tells part of the story, however, since this chart shows that they have never quite been half of the subset of people who actually make it out to the polls in a gubernatorial year. In fact, what we see now is that the number of independents has been decreasing as a share of the voting population since 1998, to the point now where Democrats outnumber them.

Using that information, and the raw voter registration numbers (PDF) from the Secretary of state, we can estimate turnout in each subgroup for 2006. The number of voters by party should be the percentage from the exit poll multiplied by the total number of voters who voted on Tuesday. If we divide that the number of registered voters, we can come up with our best guess of turnout by party.


I rounded the estimated voters to the nearest thousand to emphasize that these are estimates, and not exact numbers because they're based on polling information. In any case, we don't require that much precision to get the estimated turnout.

Compare those numbers above to what I posted in February for 2002 and 1998. The percentage of independents who turned out this year (44%) was down from the levels in 1998 (45%) and 2002 (47%). In contrast, the number of Democrats shot up from 52% in 1998 to 57% in 2002 to 62% now. It would appear that the number of Democrats who came out to vote for governor has not been higher in at least the last two elections. Note also that year after year, unenrolled voters are the least likely to turn out in a gubernatorial election. Fewer than half of unenrolled voters make it to the polls on election day.

Not only did more Democrats turn out than expected, but they were unusually loyal to the Democratic ticket. Here is the vote by party from those exit polls:


Eighty-five percent of Democrats reported a vote for Deval Patrick. That's ten points higher than the percentage who voted for Scott Harshbarger in 1998. It's amazing to me that only 15% of Democrats crossed party lines, and only 3/5ths of those voters could actually bring themselves to vote for the Republican. Notice also that while independents did break for Patrick, it was not a huge swing, only a four point difference. Deval Patrick's landslide was because more Democrats came out than in years past and those who did stuck with their party.

Late in the campaign, we were asked to stop making voter ID calls to Democrats. The campaign had seen what the exit polls ended up showing -- Democrats were sticking with their candidate at a rate we haven't seen in Massachusetts for many years. When we made get-out-the-vote calls, we were told to assume that every Democrat we hadn't IDed was already with us. Some of us, myself included, were very resistant to this, but it turned out to be a sound strategy. If there was an 85% chance that any given Democrat would fill in the oval for Deval, that would be worth the 15% who would come out for one of the other candidates. Getting Democrats of any kind to the polls became just as important as getting independents we had already identified as supporters.

Back in February, I calculated that if 70% of Democrats, or just about a million, came out to vote, then the Democratic candidate would be guaranteed a victory assuming that turnout and partisanship levels stayed the same as in 2002. The Democrats fell short of that, but because of their unprecedented loyalty to their candidate, Patrick was still able to score a resounding win.