Massachusetts comes with an opening in its corner office. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is retiring, and in a state with no shortage of ambitious politicians, youd expect there to become a Central Artery-worthy traffic jam to take his place. But rather, more than 8 weeks before Election Day, its already safe for Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey to start out selecting new drapes.
Just how did the race to govern the nations 15th largest state, the birthplace of the American Revolution, the hub of New England (or even the universe) and, in the event that you couldnt already tell, my home state get so uncompetitive?
It wasnt always. This past year, it appeared as if Bay Staters were set for not just one, but two competitive gubernatorial primaries. Harvard professor Danielle Allen, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Daz and former state Sen. Ben Downing were all running on the Democratic side, while former state Rep. Geoff Diehl was challenging Baker in the Republican primary.
Normally, a primary challenge to a sitting governor will be a fools errand, but Baker is no favorite of the GOP base. Section of a long-running tradition of moderate, even liberal, Republican governors in the Northeast, Baker spent some time working with the Democratic legislature to fight climate change and protect abortion rights, and he even arrived and only impeaching former President Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Bakers approval rating among Republicans, put simply, wasnt great. It had been only 35 percent in November 2021, in accordance with a COVID States Project poll. And after Trump endorsed Diehl, a Public Policy Polling survey sponsored by the Democratic Governors Association (admittedly, not just a disinterested party) found Diehl beating Baker in the GOP primary by 21 percentage points.
Baker denied that concern with losing the principal had anything regarding it, but he pulled the plug in December 2021, and his decision never to run for reelection changed the trajectory of the race for both parties. On the day of Bakers retirement, speculation considered whether Healey, a rising Democratic star, would launch a campaign. With Healeys candidacy (and $3.3 million war chest) looming, Downing dropped out from the race a couple weeks later.
Healey officially threw her hat in to the ring in January, and she immediately crowded out the rest of the candidates. A January poll of the Democratic primary from MassINC Polling Group gave her 48 percent to Chang-Dazs 12 percent and Allens 3 percent. Significantly less than per month later, Allen was from the race too. Chang-Daz hung within just a little longer, but nonetheless facing a 33-point deficit in a June poll from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she announced on June 23 that she had no way to win the principal and was dropping out too. Although Chang-Dazs name continues to be appearing on ballots, Healey is currently essentially unopposed in Tuesdays Democratic primary.
Also it doesnt appear to be shell have much trouble in the overall election either. Poll after poll has given Healey a commanding lead, lately Suffolk University in July (Healey 54 percent, Diehl 23 percent). And in accordance with all three versions of the FiveThirtyEight midterm forecast, Healey includes a higher than 99 in 100 potential for beating Diehl.1 Which makes Massachusetts probably the most likely governorship to improve parties in the 2022 election just behind Maryland, another blue state in which a moderate Republican governor is retiring and Republicans have nominated a diehard Trump supporter to displace him.
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Its true that Massachusetts has elected only 1 Democratic governor since 1990, and its own true that Baker happens to be among the hottest governors in the united kingdom. But as partisanship involves hold greater and greater sway over gubernatorial elections, Massachusetts may simply be too Democratic (in accordance with FiveThirtyEight partisan lean,2 its the bluest state in the united kingdom) to elect another Republican governor especially one as Trumpy as Diehl.
Granted, Diehl still must win their own primary on Tuesday plus some Republicans believe they might still win in November should they nominate self-described pragmatic businessman Chris Doughty. But Doughtys belief that Trump lost the 2020 election and promise to help keep abortion legal in Massachusetts are unlikely to fly in a Republican primary: An August poll from Advantage/Fiscal Alliance Foundation gave Diehl a 42-percent-to-27-percent lead. And also if Doughty were to upset Diehl in the principal, polls currently suggest he’d do in the same way poorly as Diehl in the overall election.
Put simply, Healey is who is fit not merely to flip the Massachusetts governors office from red to blue, but additionally to create history. She’d function as first woman elected governor of Massachusetts and the first openly lesbian governor of any state.3 So regardless of what happens in the midterms elsewhere in the united kingdom, Massachusetts gives Democrats a minumum of one thing to celebrate.
Nathaniel Rakich is really a senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight. @baseballot