With the first mid-term elections of the presidency of Barack Obama less than twenty months away, it is not too early to take a look at what incumbents may be in trouble next year. Although many political insiders are paying more attention to the federal races, next year will be filled with many interesting gubernatorial races that should not be forgotten.
One really interesting gubernatorial race will take place in my home state of Massachusetts, where the current Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick will most likely run for re-election. Massachusetts, which is known for its liberal political leanings (and its high-profile Senators, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy), actually did not have a Democratic Governor from when Michael Dukakis’s tenure ended in the early 1990’s until Patrick was inaugurated in January of 2007. With the state’s overall liberal tendencies though, one would think that Patrick would have an easy time being re-elected but a recent poll notes otherwise.
According to the Boston Herald, that poll (conducted by 7News and Suffolk University) says that “Patrick’s standing with voters is so weak that he is locked in a dead heat with his main political rival, scoring 30 percent to state Treasurer Tim Cahill’s 35 percent if the general election were held today - even though Cahill hasn’t even said he’s running.” The poll itself also states that “Forty-seven percent of registered voters surveyed said that it is time to elect someone else as governor, while 34 percent said that Patrick deserves to be reelected.” Eric Fehrnstrom, former adviser to Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has an in-depth piece about the poll on the American Issues project blog that goes into many of the specific findings of it.
In that blog post, Fehrnstrom also notes some of the similarities between President Barack Obama and Governor Deval Patrick. In late 2007, I wrote a column for Townhall.com noting some of the many similarities between these two youthful politicians. One of the main similarities between the two was their use of the term “change” as a campaign mantra. Patrick campaigned on changing Massachusetts, which had sixteen years of Republican Governors before him. Obama ran against the last eight years of a Republican administration in the White House and both candidates were victorious in their campaigns.
Although it is hard to say how Patrick will be faring politically in another year, it seems that Massachusetts voters are having second thoughts about the “change” candidate they elected less than three years ago. The gubernatorial battle in Massachusetts will surely be interesting to watch over the next year and a half. (Patrick may even have a tough primary battle ahead of him even before November 2010). Either way, the Massachusetts Governor’s race is definitely one to watch as both an indicator of how Obama’s national policies are reflecting on his fellow Democrats in the mid-term election and also because that race could show how voters respond to a “change” candidate after that candidate has been serving in a position of political leadership.