I actually paid attention to this election. The national results have been so completely analyzed that there is surely nothing new I can say. However, too little attention has been paid to the results that have taken place right here in Massachusetts. First, some background:

Our present governor, Mitt Romney, has actually accomplished very little. As everyone knows, he is just more interested in running for president than governing Massachusetts. Romney has cut funding for top Republican 'priorities,' like public safety and criminal justice, while espousing his superior conservative ethical bearing in stark relief to those wacky, degenerate Massachusetts people he oversees. Every once in a while, our governor pulls a 'John Kerry' and completely contradicts or reverses an earlier position on a contentious issue, but no one in Massachusetts notices or cares because his approval rating is close to 20 percent anyway. Or our governor will pull a 'George Bush,' which is the Massachusetts equivalent to bristling atop an aircraft carrier in a flight suit with obvious padding to make your crotch look huge. Here in Massachusetts, our governor struck a commanding pose in the Big Dig conference room emblazoned with pocket protector and holding a laser pointer. Wow, look at Romney - he's Atlas and Big Dig disaster relief all rolled into one! Sadly, though, the reality doesn't measure up.

When the Republicans announced that their nominee this election would be Romney's Lt. Governor Kerry Healey, naturally I had nothing to say...

Much more interesting were the Democratic primary candidates. During the primary campaign, the diversity of choices was magnificent and the policy differences among them veritable. At some point close to the middle, Deval Patrick arose as the inevitable nominee. This was interesting, because Patrick's plan and rhetoric were the vaguest of any candidate's. From the beginning, I was not inclined to take him very seriously. Nonetheless, it became clear that he had a kind of unstoppable momentum over and above the other two candidates, and resisting his train to the nomination was futile.

Why did Patrick beat Gabrielli and Reilly? He had the least concrete things to say. He wasn't an amazing speaker or very charismatic (despite what the die-hards said). His campaigning was not very outstanding either. His overall position on the political spectrum was pretty undistinguished. There can be many theories on how he went on to win, but I won't try to decide between them. I'll just list all the plausible ones that I can think of:

Patrick may have been a better politician. This is plausible, given that Reilly was prone to making blunders, and Gabrielli was, from his very outermost appearance to the core, not a politician at all. Not to hold anything against him: how many medical-school trained investment bankers do you know that would have much potential as a political candidate? Gabrielli, had he won (and if I were eligible, I would have voted for him), would have been a frighteningly efficient and probably very successful governor. Patrick, in his wisdom, kept his campaign vague, ESPECIALLY during the primary season, which must prove to have been a wise move given that entire campaign turned out to be so negative.

Patrick may have had a better product. And by product, I don't mean better SHELL. By that token, Healey would have won, since she has great hair.. Of course I mean product in the doctrinal sense. The message, which was, to be fair, perfectly loud and clear in all its vagueness, advertised a desire to govern by coalition rather than faction, by inclusion rather than division. This message, we may safely say, is during these times a badly needed balm at least, and redemption at its most.

It may have been Patrick's reputed charisma, whatever that is imputed to mean. Whether this came from his inspiring personal story or some exceptional personal quality, I don't really get. What I do know is that people reported finding it an integral and reinforcing part of his total message. Does charisma win elections? Sure. But it's hard to define, so let's instead move on to the next factor..

Patrick is black... This is not to take away from any other factor that led to his success this election, just as arguing that "Patrick is charismatic" is not in any way taken to imply that he offered a bad product. Since he is our state's first black governor, any analysis of his candidacy cannot ignore the fact of his race, just as the voters surely did not. Massachusetts is a leading - if not THE leading - progressive state. At the same time, Boston is STILL a racist place. I'm not going to go much further into supporting this claim other than to point out that race and class still correlate to a regretably close degree in Massachusetts, and, in effect, Boston is highly geographically segregated by race. And its a testimonial to the progressiveness of this state that voters overwhelmingly chose a black governor despite these baser ingrained tendencies.

Patrick was genuine and that's why he won. I just don't buy this one, not because I believe Deval is ungenuine (whatever that means in his case...) but because his Democratic opponent was absolutely genuine. Chris Gabrielli was way too much of a brainiac nerd and a policy freak to care for dissembling before the electorate. In other words, he was painfully genuine, which in his case translated to fully, clearly, and transparently lacking any charisma whatsoever, which I guess made it a liability in his case. The only other possibility is that Patrick was PERCEIVED to be genuine, which I guess was the case because his 'genuine' nature was consistently cited by supporters and commentators alike.

Of course, the foregoing analysis has been completely Patrick-centered. In reality, his opponents may have simply been worse. I mean, Reilly is undistinguished as Attorney General and definitely an insider in a political state that loves spending and behind the scenes brokering, thereby making him a risk. Gabrielli lived literally next to John Kerry, a fact that due to its symbolic significance made him automatically unfriendly and suspect to the powerful Southie-type lobby.

Lastly, the voters may have calculated that Patrick had the highest potential to beat the Republican Healey. What the idea may have been here, I can only speculate. Certainly he was different from Healey. And he did beat her.

Tomorrow I'll give my commentary on the campaign itself...

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