Gateway Cities key to Senate election
Elizabeth Warren’s biggest gains were in Gateway Cities such as Lawrence
BOSTON MAYOR TOM MEnINO’S voter turnout machine got much of the credit for propelling Elizabeth Warren past Sen. Scott Brown last week, but the focus on Boston obscures a much more significant shift in support in the state’s Gateway Cities. Brown swept his way into the Senate in January 2010 by making strong inroads into cities outside Boston that Democrats had traditionally carried by wide margins. He lost to Warren largely because those same cities turned against him on Election Day.
Brown lost Boston handily when he won in 2010, and he lost Boston handily when he fell to Warren last week. Menino’s machine ginned up turnout, and Democrats widened their edge over the incumbent senator: Brown slipped from taking 30 percent of the Boston vote against Attorney General Martha Coakley, to only winning 26 percent of a larger pool of votes against Warren. Brown lost Boston to Coakley by nearly 59,000 votes; Warren won the state’s capital by almost 120,000.
Candidates can’t win statewide races in Massachusetts just by winning Boston, though. There aren’t enough votes in the capital and its neighboring, overwhelmingly liberal suburbs to run roughshod over the rest of the state. Brown lost Boston by 30 percentage points in 2010, but he still dispatched Coakley and took Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat. He did so by running up huge margins in the state’s eastern and central suburbs, and by running much more competitively in the former industrial cities outside Boston than Republican candidates normally manage.
Brown won in 2010 because he took the Gateway Cities of Lowell, Haverhill, and Fitchburg (the latter by 19 and 21 points, respectively), and because he peeled off large numbers of normally solid Democratic votes to run competitively in Worcester, Brockton, and Holyoke. In 2010, the 11 Gateway Cities made up a bigger slice of the electorate than Boston, but Brown hung tough in them, losing the Gateways by just 10 points. By keeping it close in the traditionally Democratic Gateway Cities, Brown allowed his suburban base to carry the day.
Brown’s performance against Warren slipped almost across the board. He saw his share of the vote slip in 328 of the state’s 351 cities and towns. But his slide in the blue collar Gateway Cities was especially pronounced. Democrats engineered a bigger turnout swing in the Gateway Cities than Menino accomplished in Boston. Warren picked up far more new votes in the Gateways than she did in Boston, and those votes meant more to the Democratic candidate, since Brown had made significant inroads into those cities just two years before.Two years ago, Brown captured Lowell, Fitchburg, and Haverhill, and he lost just two of the state’s 11 Gateway Cities by more than 30 points. Warren took back Lowell (winning the city by 17 points) and Fitchburg (Warren edged Brown by 2 points), while narrowing her loss in Haverhill (she lost the city by 5, compared to Coakley’s 21-point loss). Warren won seven Gateway Cities – Brockton, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, New Bedford, Pittsfield, and Springfield – by at least 30 points. She won five of those by more than 40 points. In 2010, Brown lost just two Gateway Cities by more than 30 points; against Warren, he was blown out across the map.
Whereas Coakley won the Gateway Cities by 10 points, Warren won them by 32. This dramatic swing put far more votes between Warren and Brown than Boston’s increased turnout did. Menino’s vaunted turnout operation in Boston allowed Warren a meatier margin of victory than Coakley had enjoyed, as Democrats’ margin of victory in Boston swelled by 61,000 votes; the Gateway Cities went from favoring Coakley by 21,000 votes to backing Warren by 109,000, adding a meaty 88,000 votes to the Democratic column.