Liberal Boston suburbs become key battleground
Newton lags for Coakley; Milton, Carlisle back Baker
Charlie Baker launched his gubernatorial campaign last year in Lowell, and he spent much of the campaign chasing votes in cities that are traditionally hostile to Republicans like himself. Baker made raiding Democratic votes in Massachusetts cities a cornerstone of his campaign strategy. He scored a narrow victory Tuesday evening over his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Martha Coakley, even though he only made inroads in a handful of key cities. Coakley’s biggest struggles came not in the cities she was defending against Baker, but in stalwart liberal suburbs.
Lowell shows the shortcomings in Baker’s urban offensive. Scott Brown turned the city red in his 2010 Senate contest against Coakley, winning the city by 5 percentage points. Gov. Deval Patrick made cities such as Lowell a cornerstone of his 2010 reelection effort, and he beat Baker by more than 8 points in the city four years ago. Baker threw everything he had at Lowell, barnstorming through the city repeatedly, and winning the endorsement of the Sun and Democratic state Rep. David Nangle. But Coakley won the city by 7 points, just 1 point shy of Patrick’s 2010 mark.
Coakley held her own in several cities Baker coveted, such as Lawrence, Chelsea, Framingham, Salem, and Lynn. In all those cities, Coakley exceeded her own 2010 showing, and ran closely behind Patrick’s 2010 pace. In taking Brockton by 25 points, she ran 4 points ahead of Patrick’s reelection effort.
Baker made Boston a cornerstone of his campaign efforts. The state’s largest city has swung far to the left over the past decade. In 2002, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Shannon O’Brien took the city by 29 points; recently, Boston voters handed Patrick and Elizabeth Warren margins of victory of 47 and 49 points, respectively. Baker made modest inroads in Boston. He lost the city by 36 points – a mark that’s just below the 38-point defeat Coakley dealt Brown in Boston.
Coakley ran 13 points behind her own 2010 pace in Newton, winning the liberal stronghold by just 20 points; in 2010, Patrick had taken it by 37. Coakley’s 2010 Senate campaign essentially ran even with Patrick’s reelection campaign in neighboring Brookline, but on Tuesday Coakley fell 11 points behind her 2010 mark. Patrick won Sharon by nearly 18 points four years ago, but Coakley took the suburb by less than 2. The same story played out in Lincoln, Lexington, Acton, Concord, Natick, and Wayland. Coakley lost Milton by 1 point and Carlisle by 2, making Baker the first statewide Republican to capture either town since Mitt Romney in 2002.