Why Did Hillary Clinton Win Massachusetts?

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

I think we all remember the 2008 Democratic primaries, that exciting and epic battle. In many ways the campaign caused more excitement than the general election, whose result was never really in doubt (especially after the financial crisis).

Both candidates drew upon distinctly different coalitions. In an influential article, Ronald Brownstein analyzes the difference this way:

Since the 1960s, Democratic nominating contests regularly have come down to a struggle between a candidate who draws support primarily from upscale, economically comfortable voters liberal on social and foreign policy issues, and a rival who relies mostly on downscale, financially strained voters drawn to populist economics and somewhat more conservative views on cultural and national security issues.

President Barack Obama assembled a coalition from the former, these "wine-track" Democrats. When most Americans think of liberals, they think of wine-track Democrats. Mr. Obama, then, was the liberal candidate; Mrs. Clinton the "beer-track," working-class representative.

So candidate won the most liberal place in America?

In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the state of Massachusetts (you may have realized this by reading the title of this post). The result wasn't even close; Mrs. Clinton's margin was 15.37%.

More below.

These results are most strange. Barack Obama supposedly built a coalition upon liberal Democrats - yet he lost Massachusetts, the very image of liberalism. He then proceeded to win the nomination.

Several elements explain this result. Firstly, the state Massachusetts does not contain as many wine-track Democrats as most Americans tend to think. Rather, it includes a number of working-class, beer-track Democrats. These voters support Democrats based upon economic issues (which is not to say they are socially conservative). The state holds a strong union presence along with a high percentage of Catholics, numbering almost half the population. While in many places Catholics no longer vote Democratic, in Massachusetts they still are loyal to the party. According to exit polls, Catholics (45% of voters) went for Clinton by a 2-1 margin, while union households (27% of voters) supported Clinton 60-35.

Nevertheless, Clinton's overwhelming victory remains surprising. Taking working-class support for Clinton into account, one still would expect Obama to do relatively well.

Remember, however, that this is Hillary Clinton we are talking about. Hillary Clinton, the champion of women's rights. Hillary Clinton, the powerful and polarizing First Lady conservatives absolutely hated. Though the memory has dimmed, Hillary Clinton once stood at the forefront of "wine-track" liberalism. In February 5th, 2008 many liberal Democrats still remembered Hillary the feminist. Only later did Hillary the working-class fighter emerge.

Moreover, at that time Barack Obama continued to be a relative unknown, a bolt of lightning who had come out of nowhere. Hillary Clinton, therefore, made substantial inroads into Obama's coalition, just as Obama took away a central pillar of working-class Democrats (blacks). Exit polls indicated that 62% of women supported Clinton (36% supported Obama); progressive white women probably went for her even more strongly. Throughout the primaries, Jews and gays (both deeply liberal groups) tended to support Clinton.

I am not terribly satisfied with this analysis; it does not seem to fully explain how the most liberal state in the union supported the more conservative candidate. The result perplexes me even today.

Nor did Massachusetts constitute an anomaly; Clinton did well in other liberal areas. She and Obama, for instance essentially tied the San Francisco Bay Area, as the map below indicates.

Reasonable explanations behind this result also exist. Working-class Latinos gave Clinton strong support; thus her large margins in heavily Latino San Jose and Fresno. Moreover, upper-class Asians - a major Bay Area constituency - supported her 3-1.

Yet the fact remains that, out of the two most liberal regions in the nation, Hillary Clinton won a landslide in one and tied another (if one adds together the Bay Area's nine metropolitan counties, Obama actually wins by 1.2%). All this against an opponent whose base lay amongst liberal Democrats. It is all very puzzling.

Note: All images constitute modified NYT graphics.

Tags: Barack Obama, base, Clintons, Democratic Primary, election analysis, liberal, Massachusetts, Politics (all tags)

Comments

41 Comments

Re: Why Did Hillary Clinton Win Massachusetts?

My recollection is that Hillary had endorsements from the right people in MA, which is to say, the mayors and local politicians who actually had a GOTV machine at their disposal.  Ted Kennedy and John Kerry are high-profile politicians who can command a headline, but that doesn't make them the kings of GOTV.

Also, this business of "MA is a liberal state, Hillary is the more conservative candidate, what's going on here" is really trite.  It's not like Hillary was the conservative candidate in the sense of, say, Edwards 2004 or Gore 1988.  The differences were slight and had a lot more to do with personality and political style than with ideology.

by Steve M 2009-12-21 04:15PM | 0 recs
Re: and your perspective of
I have thought for a long time that the media should be owned by only news companies.  No more GE etc...
But who is going to pass that legislation?  Ha!
by TeresaInPa 2009-12-23 03:46AM | 0 recs
From someone who lives in MA...

...there are multiple Massachusettses, just as there is more than one California. I can envision Barack Obama winning Boston and the surrounding cities, but I am completely unsurprised that Hillary Clinton won working class places like Lowell and Worcester. I can't back up my hunch, but living here in 2008, the result made sense.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-21 05:32PM | 0 recs
From someone else who lives in MA...

Boston, Cambridge (especially), Somerville, and the affluent North Shore and Western Suburbs (Newton, etc), are home to almost all of MA's social liberals.  This is a relatively small slice of MA.

The majority of Democrats from the rest of the state are blue-collar 'union Democrats' and are much more socially conservative. A good many are Catholic.  These voters most closely resemble the Democrats in Pennsylvania.

I think the map (and results) make perfect sense.

by BlueInBoston 2009-12-21 08:39PM | 0 recs
Gay Marriage

It's important to note that gay marriage was not originally put to a ballot test in Massachusetts.

It was permitted through a Supreme Court ruling.

The Legislature has fought putting it on the ballot, and successfully so. Why? Because at least early on, chances are, like ME and CA and NY, it wouldn't pass a popular vote test.

That is just an example, IME, of the many different socioeconomic populations in MA.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-22 10:54AM | 0 recs
the democrats in PA?

what exactly are they?
Democrats in Pa are the same as democrats everywhere.  I am a social liberal.  I belong to the wine and cheese class of democrats and I preferred Clinton because she was clearly a better candidate for President... to say nothing of more honest and with higher personal character.

On the other hand, most of my guilty white liberal friends and relatives preferred Obama.

by TeresaInPa 2009-12-23 04:21AM | 0 recs
This feels like

I'm watching "Groundhog's Day" again and again.

by Khun David 2009-12-22 03:59AM | 0 recs
There really wasn't enough difference

between the two to justify calling Obama the more liberal and Clinton the more conservative candidate.  The choice really came down to preferred personal style and identity politics.

by JJE 2009-12-22 04:33AM | 0 recs
Re: There really wasn't enough difference

their voting record was close too. but hers was more liberal and more populist.  The idea that he was ever a populist of any kind... jeesh.  Well I guess people see what they want.

by TeresaInPa 2009-12-23 04:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Did Hillary Clinton Win Massachusetts?

Who cares?!  We've got bigger things to worry about right now versus why did Mass vote for Hillary vs. Obama.

by TxDem08 2009-12-22 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Did Hillary Clinton

She was the better candidate and would have made a better President? .... At least in the minds of a majority of the primary voters in Mass.

by RichardFlatts 2009-12-22 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: and a clear majority of

I knew I was getting ready to replace my 2009 calendar.  I just didn't realize that I had to replace it with a 2008 one.

Time flows backwards I guess.

by Khun David 2009-12-22 10:54PM | 0 recs
Re: and a clear majority of
you remind me of the republicans who said bush's theft in 2000 was ancient history.
Elections do indeed have consequences and disregarding the will of the people has consequences too.  Next election people are going to remember that they were disenfranchised in the 2008 primaries (just down right cheated) and with Obama pushing crappy republican legislation, do not be surprised when reliable democratic voters do not show up.
by TeresaInPa 2009-12-23 04:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Did Hillary Clinton Win Massachusetts?

Beer drinker.  Obama supporter.  But I would have been happy with Clinton too.

by the mollusk 2009-12-22 11:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Did Hillary Clinton Win Massachusetts?

Clinton won because she was to the left of Obama on every single issue, and she has a real history of actually doing stuff that makes other people's lives better. Obama had no history whatsoever of taking the initiative to improve people's lives. She had the political positions that liberals embrace and the history to prove she could get them done. That's why they supported her. I think the vote proves that Massachusetts just may be our smartest state.

obama was to her right, inexperienced and sounded liked Elmer Fudd when he wasn't on a teleprompter. I have no idea how anyone found him a worthwhile candidate, and now we're stuck with the worst Democratic president since the 19th century.

by glitterannebegay 2009-12-22 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: she had 30 years

Can't have been very good experience, if she couldn't even win a "shoe-in" primary against  young whipper-snapper!

by vecky 2009-12-22 08:46PM | 0 recs
the majority of democrats in the country
preferred her.  There was massive cheating in many states to make Obama the candidate against the will of the people.
MA , like most other states in the North East has an older population.  Older democrats preferred Clinton and her experience and her smarts.
by TeresaInPa 2009-12-22 02:24PM | 0 recs
Newsflash!

The year is 2009 (almost 2010). And Hillary Clinton LOST the primary, fair and square.

I like her personally, but could care less about her older demographic.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-22 02:33PM | 0 recs
No, Obama cheated.

In Texas alone, there were over 300 affadavits signed under penalty of perjury by people alleging illegal behavior and the breaking of party rules in the campaign. And that's just Texas. In Indiana, there are affadavits from people whose teenage children were given palm cards to instruct them on who to vote for and were given breakfast, lunch and an IPod for participating in the primaries. And the name on the palm card was Barack Obama. No, he didn't win fair and square. He cheated as thoroughly and as surely as Bush did.

Furthermore, Tufts Health Care CEO James Roosevelt, headed the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting that awarded Obama four of Clinton legitimately won delegates in Michigan and all of the uncommitted, while cutting in half the number of delegates allowed to be seated in Denver by Florida and Michigan - both states Clinton won. A health insurance CEO made sure Obama had the votes to win, and now the health care bill of his dreams is being signed into law. Obama's got to pay back the man and you and I can all go to hell.

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editor ial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/04/09/hea lthcare_lets_build_on_what_we_know/

So, the CEO who presided over Obama being awarded delegates that he did not win gets the exact health care plan that he wants.

Uh huh. Now, there's a negotiation that I didn't see on CSpan.

by glitterannebegay 2009-12-22 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Newsflash!
Nope, Obama won it just like Bush won in 2000.  Take a look at TX and NV and then take a look at the DNC's behavior and who got more votes... Including in FL and MI.
Don't like it, tough shit.
by TeresaInPa 2009-12-22 04:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Did Hillary Clinton Win Massachusetts?

Perhaps for the same reasons she won the popular vote -- despite caucus fraud in red states and being handicapped in MI & FL. She was the peoples' choice; BO was the Party's choice.  

Furthermore, after Gov Patrick -- BO's twin --  Massachussetts were not buying what BO and the Party elites were peddling. Thus HRC kicked his behind -- and Kennedy's and Kerry's -- by 15%!  

by trixta 2009-12-22 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Did Hillary Clinton Win Massachusetts?

You need to stop living in the past and then making it up as you go along. Hillary had the most amount of super-delegate pledges going into the primaries. She was the establishment candidate through and through.

by vecky 2009-12-22 08:32PM | 0 recs
No, Obama was the establishment candidate.

The Obama camp's claim against Clinton is that she was. But Clinton's actual voting record doesn't fit the bill. She's no Feinstein. Her voting record is far closer to Boxer.

Obama had Wall Street and the media on his side. He wound up with the bulk of super delegates, even ones like Kerry and Kennedy, who had to ignore the preferences of their own constituents to endorse him.

by glitterannebegay 2009-12-22 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: No, Obama was the establishment candidate.

Obama gained the bulk of super-delegates rather late in the game, when the math was inexorable. Clinton led in that feidl right uptill April/May I think.

As for Kennedy - it's pretty clear whey Obama got his endorsement - according to reports it was secured in exchange for making HCR a first year priority. We can only assume that Hillary was unwilling to make that bargain. Only assume... As for Kerry, you'll have to ask him. It was so long ago I've happily forgotten most of the primary battles. I wish you the same peace.

by vecky 2009-12-22 08:53PM | 0 recs
Yes and caving in to dying senators

who'd rather have a bad bill with their name on it rather than a good bill with someone else's name on it, makes one the establishment candidate.

by glitterannebegay 2009-12-22 08:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes and caving in to dying senators

Teddy was in it for a lot of things, but not the personal glory.

I'll let your comment stand and see how many more dems, real dems, your willing to sh!t on.

by vecky 2009-12-22 09:13PM | 0 recs
Re: not the personal glory.?

"I worked with..."

"I interned with..."

I am beginning to think you are a poseur.

by Khun David 2009-12-22 11:02PM | 0 recs
envy?

Pity is more like it.  Why would I envy someone like you?

by Khun David 2009-12-23 06:04AM | 0 recs
Re: we both know the answer

You're funny.

by Khun David 2009-12-23 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Fantasy Fudge

Makes about 117

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 12-oz. (340 g) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 7-oz. (198 g) jar Kraft Marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Traditional method:
Combine sugar, margarine and milk in heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan; bring to full rolling bail, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate till melted. Add marshmallow creme, nuts & vanilla beat till blended. Pour into greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Let cool and cut into 1-inch squares.

Microwave method:
Microwave margarine in 4-quart microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) 1 minute or until melted. Add sugar and milk; mix well. Microwave on HIGH 5 minutes or until mixture begins to boil, stirring after 3 minutes. Mix well; scrape bowl. Continue microwaving on HIGH 5-1/2 minutes; stir after 3 minutes. Stir in chips until melted. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour into greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Cool at room temperature; cut into squares. Makes 3 pounds.

by QTG 2009-12-23 06:07AM | 0 recs
Re: total myth

Ohhh, that evil Pelosi... love it when so called "dems" reveal their true colors.

Hey I guess McAuffile wasn't an "insider", no sireeee...

by vecky 2009-12-22 08:48PM | 0 recs
Are you pretending that being

the former head of the DNC is the equivalent of being the current speaker of the house in terms of clout?

Perhaps you'd like to explain why both Kennedy and Kerry, knowing that Clinton had won their state in a landslide still chose to endorse Obama? Considering how far right he's governed, what could their motivation have been? Are you under the impression that Kerry and Kennedy were secretly conservatives?

by glitterannebegay 2009-12-22 08:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Are you pretending that being

Current? Daschle had been out since 2004. He was never considered a very effective leader either - I guess he shared that trait with McAuliffe. We won't even mention that Hillary had Mr Big Dog - Bill himself - firmly in her camp.

I fail to see Obamas far right positions. Maybe you need to take a closer look at the GOP rather than firing on "your own side" all the time.

by vecky 2009-12-22 08:58PM | 0 recs
Re: sooo low info....

I have no doubt your one of those folk who like to "THINK they know EVERYTHING".

Go on, let's hear what crazy conspiracy theory your little warped mind came up with now...

by vecky 2009-12-22 09:16PM | 0 recs
Re: no....

" obama, daschle, senate staff "

Is it relevant? Shall I add "born in Kenya" for good measure?

I want to hear this from you... your so smart and knowledgeable. What's the point of posting on a blog if not to enlightened us poor fools blinded by the system?

by vecky 2009-12-22 09:24PM | 0 recs
Re: cant stand pelosi

Hey Steny Hoyer is the House majority leader. He and Pelosi work well together.

Your divisive attitude tell me all I need to know. Didn't you see the sign on the entrance to the Big tent? Check your attitude at the door!

by vecky 2009-12-22 09:07PM | 0 recs
Re: STENY AND PELOSI HATE

Ya ya ya... so much beltway drama. Who cares if they hate or love each other? Like the cosy-chummy relations in the senate actually matter a sh!t to anyone.

They work well together. He corrales the Blue Dogs, she corrales the progressives, the deliver on tough votes and work for the good of the party and country and keep your type of petty divisiveness out at the door.

Maybe you need to get your head out of the beltway gossip scene and more into what matters to ordinary folk in this country.

by vecky 2009-12-22 09:37PM | 0 recs
Re: cant stand pelosi

"i am working class dem"

I work for a living too.

Maybe you need to double check exactly who is the elitist and condescending one here.

That said I highly doubt your a dem. You sound just like some of those conservative posters over on RedState. Tehy are the same - always pretending, always with a chip on their shoulder, always with a holier than thou attitude and always passing judgment on others, the total hypocrites. So take your tea-baggery elsewhere, capish?

by vecky 2009-12-22 09:10PM | 0 recs
Re: then maybe you should learn

I actually don't watch MSNBC... it's one of those premium channels I can't afford. Sometimes I catch a bit online if it's good.

by vecky 2009-12-22 09:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Did Hillary Clinton Win Massachusetts?

So then why did Obama win Connecticut?

by Drummond 2009-12-22 09:57PM | 0 recs
OK - but what's your point?

Sorry, but I don't get it.

Clinton was the more progressive candidate by far. Perhaps the folks in MA saw that, I don't know. I agree with glitterannebegay's post below.

Still, I don't get the point of this diary.

by carrieboberry 2009-12-23 03:54AM | 0 recs

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