Friends and family are emailing me from around the country, asking me to explain how my seemingly liberal commonwealth just elected a Republican Senator in yesterday's special election, thereby jeopardizing the health care legislation that was the life legacy of beloved Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy.
You can read others for careful poll numbers. I'm just giving my impression.
Briefly, it is true the Massachusetts is about 80% liberal by national standards, and only about 20% conservative. That makes Massachusetts much more liberal than most states. But the liberals are deeply divided. One half has working class and pro-union roots in manufacturing, construction, and government service industries, which are all suffering painful economic stresses. The other half is connected to the large higher education, financial service, biomedical, and software industries.
The Democratic candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley, is a highly educated lawyer who failed to reach out well to liberals with working class roots, who are genuinely fearful about economic conditions.
All conservative voters went to the polls yesterday, while some fraction of liberals stayed home.
Republican candidate Scott Brown compiled a coalition of conservatives (perhaps 30% of all voters yesterday) and some portion under half of the liberals with working class roots (gaining Brown 15% of all voters yesterday). His last 6% of all voters liked his good looks and pickup truck.
The lesson I draw is that highly educated liberals in comparatively high-paying industries should steadily attend to the health of their political networks and friendships across all types of people in their communities. Don't just run with your own crowd.