When Scott Brown won the special election for Senate in Massachusetts, national pundits proclaimed it some kind of harbinger of what was to come. Massachusetts -- make that liberal Massachusetts -- was rejecting health care reform and the Obama agenda. No matter how much those of us who were there pointed to the ineffectual Coakley campaign and the effective Brown one, they had a story to tell about supposed national implications and they kept telling it.
Well, guess what. Yesterday, the voters of Massachusetts reelected their Democratic governor and returned a full slate of Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives. But one race stands out.
In March, Rep. Bill Delahunt announced his retirement from the state's 10th district. It was seen as a Republican pick-up opportunity, both because it is historically the state's least Democratic district and because Scott Brown dominated the area, winning it by a 20-point margin.
Yet yesterday, Democrat Bill Keating was elected to the House in the district:
But as the results poured in last night, it became clear that Perry had been unable to replicate Brown’s feat. Keating won or was competitive with Perry in town after town where Brown had scored victories in January. For example, Brown won Cohasset by 26 points in January; Keating claimed it by 2 points. Rockland gave Brown a 31-point margin; Keating won it by 9.
Most striking was Plymouth, the sprawling suburb at the middle of the district that has, by Massachusetts standards, displayed a more conservative bent. Brown won Plymouth by 28 points. And with one of the largest voting bases in the 10th, Perry would have needed a large margin in Plymouth to offset strong Democratic turnout at the northern end of the district.
But Perry won Plymouth by 163 votes out of 21,777 total.
That's despite Scott Brown campaigning for Perry. And yes, Perry was a massive scumbag. But scumbags won in several states yesterday, and this one was locked out.
Scott Brown will certainly be competitive in 2012, and he may well win a full term. He's a canny and effective politician. But what he was not is a sign that Massachusetts has turned rightward, that even liberal Massachusetts is rejecting Democratic policies or candidates.