50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 6. Massachusetts

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

6. Massachusetts

Capital: Boston

Nickname: The Bay State

Motto: Ense Petit Placidam Sub Libertate Quietem

(By the sword we seek peace, but only peace under liberty)

About the State

As the epicenter of the Revolution, the home of both the Adams and Kennedy families, and the place where basketball was invented, Massachusetts has been at the heart of the story of America since before the nation was even born.  Prior to becoming a colony, the land was the home of Algonquin tribes, but around 90% of the Native Americans living by the Atlantic Ocean were killed by Smallpox, which had arrived with the European settlers in the early 17th century.  Two colonies – at Plymouth and Boston – were founded, by the Pilgrims and Puritans respectively, and these ultimately joined together to form the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

By the 1770s, the move towards independence grew strong in the country, but its roots were found in Boston.  The British soldiers in the Boston Massacre of 1770 were successfully defended by John Adams – who would go on to be the second President of the United States – but the killing of five men anatagonised the colony’s – already strained – relationship with the King.  This antipathy towards the crown was further exacerbated by the introduction of tariffs on tea imported to Massachusetts by the British East India Company.  Prior to this, and to the Stamp Act of 1765, levies had only been imposed on the colony by their own elected officials and this was seen as “Taxation without Representation”.  A protest from the Americans came in the form of the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when a ship’s cargo of the leaves were thrown into Boston Harbor.  This action by the Colonists resulted in the Coercive Acts of 1774 being passed by the British Parliament, which imposed several unfair measures on all of the thirteen colonies, including: bringing the Government of Massachusetts under British control; closing the port in Boston; forcing all colonies to accept quartering of British soldiers in American homes (which led to the Founding Fathers outlawing this practice in the Third Amendment to the Constitution); and allowed any Royal Officer who was accused of a crime, to have his trial moved back to Great Britain.  As a response, the colonies came together for the First Continental Congress, at which it was determined that they should move towards independence.  During the Revolutionary War, many battles were fought in Massachusetts – including the first at Lexington and Concord – and it was the site of Paul Revere’s famous “Midnight Ride”.

Massachusetts was at the core of the abolitionist movement in the 1830s and two of the most prominent figures identified with this cause, William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, hailed from the state.   During the Civil War, more than 150,000 men from Massachusetts served in the Union army and navy, including the first regiment of African-American soldiers – though they were commanded by white officers.

In the 19th century, the state moved away from an agricultural economy and towards one based on manufacturing, in particular the production of textiles and shoes, but this declined in the 20th century and Massachusetts job-base moved towards high-tech companies, education, finance, and the service industries.  As well as being the location of several of the top Universities in the country – including the oldest, Harvard – Massachusetts has been the home to many of the great American thinkers, such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson; writers and poets, like Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, John Updike and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; and the painter, Norman Rockwell.  It was also the birthplace of the US state schooling system, with Horace Mann’s suggested model – of providing universal public education – being adopted by the country at large.

Massachusetts is the sixth smallest in the US, but has the 14th largest population with just over 6.5 million residents.  Four Presidents were born in the state: John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams; John F. Kennedy; and George H.W. Bush, while it was also Calvin Coolidge’s home state, though his birthplace was Vermont.  Four “Big Four” sports teams are based in Massachusetts, the Boston Bruins (NHL), Red Sox (MLB) and Celtics (NBA), as well as the New England Patriots (NFL).  Boston also had the first subway system in the United States.

2012 Election

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 11

2008 Result: Obama 62% McCain 36.2%

Latest Poll: Obama +23%

Other than Ronald Reagan, the most recent Republican Presidential candidate to win the Electoral College Votes of the state of Massachusetts was Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.  Despite Mitt Romney having been Governor there from 2003-2007, there is little chance of him altering this trend on November 6th.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: Massachusetts is the site of one the most interesting Senate races in 2012, as the incumbent Scott Brown (R) takes on Elizabeth Warren (D), who worked as a Special Advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Obama administration.  Brown won a special election to take the seat after Senator Ted Kennedy passed away in 2009, becoming the first Republican to represent Massachusetts in the Senate since Edward Brooke served from 1967 to 1979.  Currently, Warren has a slight lead in the polls, but the seat is considered vital to both party’s chances of having control of the Senate come January, so much attention is being put on the race.

Massachusetts currently sends 10 Representatives to the House, but this will drop to 9 in this election after the reapportionment from the 2010 Census.  All of the seats are currently held by Democrats and that seems likely to remain the case, as the Republicans do not even have a candidate in a third of the districts.  Only Rep. John Tierney in the 6th district is in a close race, against GOP candidate Richard Tiesi, but he is expected to secure a ninth-term in Congress.

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