Electable has two definitions, one covers likely and the other covers fitness. In news coverage, we are seeing and hearing more and more from candidates and polled voters alike that they want to go with the electable one.
A case in point is the trend piece in this week's Bay Windows. It certainly isn't scientific research, but it does a great job at highlighting the electability meme in considering whether the gay community will be torn between voting for Deval Patrick or Chris Gabrieli.
Statewide, gay voters are not a huge factor, but they are substantial enough to bring candidates around and flavor the debates. Specifically, the issues of both the pending anti-same-sex-marriage amendment and those disgraceful 1913 laws used to keep out of staters from marrying here keep coming up as debate questions.
In the most recent televised debate, Patrick had a fairly strong statement against the amendment, but Gabrieli mush-mouthed his attitude. Patrick has the edge in public gay support, but Gabrieli is not far behind. Neither stresses gay issues on his Website.
The BW piece interviews some Patrick-to-Gabrieli converts and some fence sitters. One switcher, Mark Walsh, conveyed another meme with, "I like to look at it as like ‘The Three Bears’: we got one that’s too liberal, one that’s too conservative and somebody who’s just right and Chris is just right from my perspective."
Regular readers here should know that I endorse Patrick. To me, his ideas, platform and proposals are fleshed out, headed in the right direction, and much more substantial and any other candidate's. Yet, I find him not liberal enough. I am amazed that the popular thought seems to be that he is too pink. I would call him a moderate or a moderate progressive.
Yet Walsh's view is significant in and beyond the gay communities. It reflects the dissatisfaction with the decades of Republican leaderless stagnation in every sense for the commonwealth. People seem afraid of supporting a candidate who might turn off the huge number of independent voters here. They also know that beyond a few urban areas, much of Massachusetts remains socially conservative, often fiscally conservative, and racially homogenous.
Which bring us to another electability issue -- how afraid are liberal voters that other voters will not ink the oval for a Black man?
As Gabrieli is courting gay voters, Tom Reilly plays his own Black card. He grew up and remains good friends with Black men and families, particularly in his native Springfield. His effort to curry favor against a Black candidate has the underlying theme that he is palatable and electable to white voters.
Additionally, Patrick is still earning name and message recognition in Black communities. His support is probably under 50% still with Blacks. While like gays, Black voters do not swing elections here solo, they represent a solid enough set of numbers to pursue.
So, we are back to a contest with three candidates who claim they will spend what it takes. New reports suggest that indy Christy Mihos may not have enough voter support or personal disposable income to keep pace with Gabrieli and GOP Kerry Healey. Yet at least the two latter make much of their money.
The message from Healey is much like Gabby's -- "I can spend and spend. I can buy this election."
With my view that Patrick has the right ideas, the right stuff, that is the wrong claim. What we need is 1) to knock the do-nothing Republicans out of the governor's office, 2) have a progressive governor who will lead us out of economic gloom and public-policy stagnation, and 3) install a leader with both the ideas and the will to force the inert legislature to sit up and do the people's business.
Unfortunately, the candidates who promise to buy the office don't deliver on any promise other than electability. What do we liberals and progressives gain if we elect one of them and end up with more of what we've had?
We can hope that Suffolk and other local pollsters ask those questions about electability. Would you sacrifice content for a sure winner? Are you afraid that Patrick's left slant or skin color will freak the independents and exurbanites?
To illustrate the gay angle, BW quotes hesitant and waffling voter, Arlene Forunato:
With three candidates in the race, she says, "it just seems like they’re all cannibalizing each other’s candidacies and we’re going to end up with Governor Kerry Healey." Fortunato says she believes that Gabrieli would be "a fantastic governor." Yet she also says, “after the convention I thought they all should get behind Deval. He’s got the endorsement, let’s just forget about our own individual agendas and make this thing work. But that’s not going to happen."Indeed, she's right. We have to consider then whether we have the guts to go with ideas and direction. We could take the electable option and always wonder what we might have had behind the other door.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, electability, Chris Gabrieli, Deval Patrick, governor, Bay Windows