The worst place to be a Republican in America today is Massachusetts.
While the 60-seat GOP wave was washing over the rest of America, Bay State Republicans lost every single congressional race and statewide office, and they picked up only a handful of seats in the state legislature. In the midst of the Republican tsunami, Massachusetts Democrats didn’t get their hair mussed.
Good Democratic candidates like Deval Patrick — a talented campaigner — won. Lousy Democratic candidates like the one for auditor — who was caught cheating on her taxes just weeks ago — won, too.
And the margins in the congressional races weren’t significantly different than in any other year. Democrats got around 60 percent of the vote, while Republicans topped out around 40 percent. In the one open race, Bill Keating — an uninspiring candidate with ethical problems — went negative the entire campaign. By one count, he sent out eleven pieces of vicious attack mail in the last 14 days.
You know the saying that every dark cloud has a silver lining? Massachusetts Republicans have yet to find it.
This was the most devastating political defeat for Republicans I’ve ever witnessed anywhere. It’s devastating in part because Republicans had something they never have in Massachusetts: expectations. Modest ones, to be sure: a couple of congressional seats, maybe an outside shot at the governor’s office. Not much. Just enough wins to keep GOP voters motivated for the next election.
Not much to ask for in a wave-election year. But what did we get? Nothing. Not a single victory.
This disaster is made worse by the fact that there’s nothing to blame it on. It’s not an anti-Bush year or an anti-GOP year. It’s not that Republicans had no candidates or that all the candidates were lousy. In most other states, some of these races would have been competitive. But in Massachusetts, it didn’t matter much that there were Republicans on the ballot at all.
It had seemed almost certain earlier today that a couple of Republicans would benefit from the inept leadership of the Democrats locally and the Republican wave nationally and win. Instead, these hopeful Republican got nothing.
Today it looks like Scott Brown’s election truly was a fluke. Today it seems pointless for any Massachusetts Republican to waste his time planning to run in 2012, when Barack Obama’s on the ticket.
The brutal truth is that Democrats own Massachusetts. Period. This wasn’t an election of ideology or political personality. It was brute partisan force. If the unions and state workers and Democratic operatives want to win an election here — any election — they win.
That’s the harsh political reality that hit Massachusetts Republicans right across the face tonight.