New article: Do contested primaries help or hurt candidates for governor in Massachusetts?

I thought the RMG community might be interested in a new article I just posted on my Mass. Numbers blog:

Do contested primaries help or hurt candidates for governor in Massachusetts?

Republicans have seen success limiting primary fights

Governor Deval Patrick has said that he will not run for a third term, meaning Massachusetts will have a wide-open race for Governor in 2014. Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and Treasurer Steve Grossman have indicated they are thinking about running for the Democratic nomination, and there is speculation that former Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker may throw his hat into the ring for a second time. History shows that there will be more candidates putting their names in and out of contention before the final decision is made by the voters on November 4, 2014.

How does the number of candidates in a party's primary affect its nominee's performance in the general election? Massachusetts Democratic Party leader John Walsh is on the record as saying that he likes contested primaries because the party benefits from the competition. Others say that a contentious primary weakens the eventual nominee and reduces the chances of a general election win. Which of these notions is borne out by the facts? I try to shed some light on the matter by examining the performance of Democratic and Republican nominees for Massachusetts Governor since 1960.

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About bwbensonjr

  • but not anymore. In 2010, I felt that a Baker-Mihos primary would have kept Baker in the news during the summer months and would have put him in a better position to beat Patrick. But, the party bigwigs were determined to clear the field for Baker and we saw what happened.  

  • that I’m a big fan of annointing candidates….that’s how the Mullahs in Iran choose the candidates the People then get to vote on.

  • edfactor

    Normally, I think competition creates better quality. And there are many ways that people can compete for the nomination. The question is whether a contested, traditional primary is a good idea for us now.

    The Republican party is now a small minority of the state. So if one guy represents the moderate Republicans (say 75% of the 11%) and another is from the socially conservative wing (say 25% of the 11%) who is served by that fight? That fight will probably drag the moderate guy toward the right and get lots of bruises. To what end?

    (Take the Mihos suggestion. I have met him twice and seen him in action many times. He is a clown. What the hell would Baker get from arguing with a man like that? Nothing.)

    No, unless someone can convince me that we gain something from a contested primary, I don’t want one. The Democrats decided to nix Elizabeth Warren’s challengers behind the scenes before the primary and also Ms. DeFranco at their convention. Even they saw no value in it. (But I thought DeFranco got the shaft. She really earned a shot.)

    Don’t get me wrong – if someone can explain to me how it would help us, then let’s have a contest. But until I hear that – we can’t afford it.