POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

What Did Boston Do for Brown?

by David Trumbull

January 29, 2010

In Washington, D.C. this week, where I was in meetings with officials of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, all the dinner-table discussion was of Scott Brown’s dramatic victory in Massachusetts. Or, as some of my colleagues from the Carolinas said, “Who would have thought Southern conservatives would be looking to Massachusetts—of all places—to save us from Obamacare?”

The election results even in the City of Boston were an eye-opener. Republican Scott Brown did exceptionally well in some Boston neighborhoods. Surprisingly, Beacon Hill and Back Bay, which used, commonly, to be thought of as the last bastion of Republican Boston, while returning a higher percentage of votes for Brown than the city overall, were not his strongest areas.

Working class Democrat neighborhoods in Boston went big for Brown. That mirrors what happened statewide, at least according to an article in the Wall Street Journal which cited a poll commissioned by the AFL-CIO reporting union households favored Mr. Brown over Ms. Coakley in the recent election.

Is this the resurgence of “Ed King” Democrats (known nationally as “Ronald Reagan Democrats”) as a deciding factor in state elections? We shall see. It is unclear how Bay State Democrats will respond to Scott Brown’s election. Republicans are, as expected, hopeful of victories in November. With two good candidates for the Republican nomination for governor we are well positioned to capture the attention of the people and the press. Any Republican candidate who can add to that by igniting the passion of the people, as did Scott Brown, will look like a November winner.

Republican hopes will not be focused solely on statewide or suburban races as in the past. In last week’s column I gave Post-Gazette readers some details on the Republican vote by neighborhood and precinct, including the North End where he came within two percentage points of winning and did win in one of the four North End precincts.

I now have numbers for East Boston, where the Post-Gazette maintains a satellite office. “Eastie” went for Brown 45%, or 15 percentage points above the citywide vote for the Republican. In the four precincts of East Boston that make up the Orient Heights neighborhood, that is, the predominantly Italian part of East Boston, Scott Brown won, with 54% of the vote.

Clearly, Boston, in the recent election, proved to be a big—and in recent memory untapped—source of Republican support.

[David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]