It is hard to believe that in Massachusetts, a state that has voted for the Democratic candidate in the last 7 presidential elections and doesn’t have a single Republican representing it in Congress, a Republican could win in a statewide race. However, on Tuesday, November 4, Republican Charlie Baker defeated Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) in an extremely tight race to become the next governor of the commonwealth.
So, how did Baker beat a Democratic state official in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans three-to-one? The answer is simple: he won with independent voters.
Why 2014 is the Year of the Independent Voter
The impact independent voters have in Massachusetts is often overlooked in traditional media coverage of elections. Voters not affiliated with the Republican and Democratic parties actually make up the majority in the commonwealth, but this is not information that is often communicated.
So, when a Republican does well in a statewide election, it comes as a shock. But 4 out of the last 5 governors in Massachusetts have been Republicans, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who served in the position before current Governor Deval Patrick (D).
Yet, voters in Massachusetts seem to believe Republicans make good governors. Indeed, Massachusetts is a deeper shade of purple than many people realize.
In a statement to IVN, Baker’s communications director, Tim Buckley, said it was his candidate’s “positive vision for Massachusetts that focuses on job creation, reforming state government, and better schools” that helped him build momentum in the final months leading up to the election.
“Charlie’s message of balance in this state has been a winning argument with independent voters,” Massachusetts GOP Chair Kirsten Hughes said in an interview for IVN. She said this is because independents “see the value of balance.”
Massachusetts is just one of a number of states that should challenge the way we look at politics in the United States as the number of voters who choose not to affiliate or register with the Republican and Democratic parties continues to grow. A Republican winning the governor’s seat in Massachusetts is indisputable evidence that independent voters are having a major impact in elections nationwide.