Excellent grist for the Massachusetts mill in the latest issue of The New Republic.
First up: According to TNR, incumbent Sen. Scott Brown has already lost to challenger Elizabeth Warren.
Dead tree version (web version here):
Why he never had a chance against Elizabeth Warren
Throughout the summer, Elizabeth Warren was having trouble transitioning from liberal icon to successful candidate. Polls showed Senator Scott Brown holding a modest lead, and Warren struggled to deflect harsh criticism of her claim to Cherokee ancestry. But after her nationally televised address at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), Warren has mounted a comeback. Most polls now show her leading with nearly 50 percent of the vote, leaving some wondering how the popular, pickup-truck-driving senator who’s actually from Massachusetts managed to fall behind. A close look at the numbers suggests we shouldn’t be surprised.
The real surprise, of course, is that Brown won in the first place. Massachusetts has leaned Democratic since the wave of predominantly Catholic immigrants tipped the scales against Republican-leaning Protestants in the late 1920s. And since that time, relatively moderate, well-educated suburban voters have deserted Republicans in the state, as they have elsewhere. Buoyed by low Democratic turnout in a special election, a weak opponent, and the anti-Democratic wave that swept Republicans to historic victories across the country, Brown won the largest share of the popular vote in Massachusetts of any Republican running for the presidency, governorship, or Senate in 14 years. And what was Brown’s record-setting performance? 51.9 percent.
The state’s demographics are just too much for a conservative to bear.
The dead tree version then provides several helpful charts, which the web version unhelpfully omits. But the bottom line is this: Warren leads in a few polls three weeks before the election, and it’s all over?
Get serious, guys.
Then again, that’s just what TNR does in a companion piece about why Mitt Romney hates the Boston Globe.
The roots of his rage for the press
IT WASN’T ALWAYS like this between Mitt Romney and the press. His aides didn’t always tell reporters to “kiss my ass”; they didn’t always hole him up in a Mittness Protection Program, the not-so-affectionate name campaign journalists have given to the candidate’s extreme lack of availability. And they sure didn’t drive sympathetic journalists—in this case, Fox News’s Greta van Susteren—to suggest that the experience of covering him is like being a member of a “petting zoo.” It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time, nearly 20 years ago, when Romney’s electoral strategy largely hinged on wooing the press, on proving to them that he was a less adversarial kind of Republican candidate. That he wasn’t able to has shaped his political life ever since.
The big catch he couldn’t land back in the early ’90s was Globe statehouse bureau chief Frank Phillips, who was initially impressed by the 1993 version of Romney, but soon began examining him more closely, especially his Mormon religion.
[Phillips] admits that, before the election, he knew almost nothing about the liturgy and would often confuse Mormons with Jehovah’s Witnesses. But the more he delved into the religion, and Romney’s leadership role in it, the more he began to believe that Romney’s private beliefs were in direct contrast to the positions of social tolerance he was espousing.
And began to write about it, especially Mormonism’s stance on gay rights, abortion, and women’s role in society. That led to serious friction with Romney campaign gunsel Charley Manning.
The campaign felt as if there was real religious bigotry behind the coverage. “I think they wanted to plant a seed in people’s minds, like questioning, ‘Oh, what’s all this Mormon stuff really about?’” says a former Romney aide. “They kind of made him look like he was in this strange, cult-like group.” Manning did what he could. “Charley Manning and I are old friends, but we had shouting matches about it,” explains Phillips. “He’d say, ‘You can’t talk about his religion,’ and I’d say, ‘Fuck you, Charley.’”
It got worse from there, and Romney got smoked by a very gettable Ted Kennedy in the ’94 Senatorial election.
Eight years later, it was a different story.
[A]fter the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, Romney returned to Massachusetts transformed. For his governor’s race that year, he hired a new team, led by strategist Mike Murphy, who wasn’t inclined to treat the hometown paper with anything like reverence. In fact, his very explicit goal was to diminish the Globe’s power—particularly its control over the debate process—and he thinks he succeeded. “Now, the Globe has about as much punch in a general election as the Auto Trader,” Murphy [said].
Nowadays, it’s not just the Globe that’s on the outside looking in – it’s all news media. As the TNR piece concludes: “Clearly, Romney had learned his lesson from 1994: The press can’t be trusted.”
Then again, rise your hand if you’re sure Mitt Romney can.