Trump’s rise — and fall — carry a Massachusetts echo
Maybe we should have seen this coming
HIS ELECTORAL TRIUMPH seemed like a fluke. Just to pursue our highest public office as a first-time candidate was improbable enough. To go on to win it was so flabbergasting as to cause the many pollsters who had predicted his defeat to question their sampling methods.
But in retrospect, the victory was not entirely surprising.
A third-party candidate siphoned off votes that might have gone to his opponent, and that opponent was also his ideal foil — competent, certainly, but perhaps too much so, with a demeanor that could seem condescending and a campaign message that was vague and tepid by comparison to his. Disgruntled voters, enough of them anyway, wanted something else.
His approval rating, once he took office, never came close to a majority. His administration was dogged by charges of incompetence and corruption. The absence of blacks and Hispanics from positions of influence suggested indifference — or worse — to their concerns, and his anti-abortion policies further alienated pro-choice voters.
He headed into the re-election campaign as a widely unpopular incumbent, but with the advantage of a deeply loyal base of support. The election set new turnout records, giving him more votes than he had won the first time, but they were not enough. A decisive majority of voters, including many who regretted their decision to sit out the previous election, cast their ballots against him.The year was 1982, the election was the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Massachusetts, and his name was Ed King. He had defeated incumbent Gov. Mike Dukakis in the 1978 primary and was defeated by him four years later.
Margaret Monsell, a former assistant attorney general and former general counsel to the state Senate Committee on Ways and Means, is an attorney practicing in the Boston area.