Political Scientists Doubt Republicans Can Win 2022 Race for Governor of Massachusetts

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/12/05/political-scientists-doubt-republicans-can-win-2022-race-for-governor-of-massachusetts/

Will the next governor of Massachusetts be a Republican?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has typically elected Republicans over the past 30 years; four of the past five governors to win elections in the state, including the current governor, have been Republicans: Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci, Mitt Romney, and Charlie Baker.

Baker isn’t running for a third term, so it’s now an open seat race. The current lieutenant governor, Karyn Polito, won’t run for governor next year, either.

Political scientists think that new governor will be a Democrat. NewBostonPost spoke with a few political scientists in the wake of the news that both Baker and Polito will not run again. These political scientists told NewBostonPost that the Massachusetts Republican Party stands little chance of winning the governorship next year.

Boston College political scientist Dave Hopkins told NewBostonPost in an email message that the race now favors a Democrat, but primary infighting could aid Republicans.

“It definitely makes the Democrats the clear favorites next year,” Hopkins said. “It appears that Baker is retiring because he was justifiably worried about losing the Republican primary to a pro-Trump challenger, and Polito’s decision not to run to succeed him reinforces that perception. It will be interesting to see if any major Republican candidate even attempts to run in 2022 as a representative of the Baker wing of the party rather than the Trump wing. If the Republicans nominate a more conservative candidate, they will face a serious challenge in winning an election in a normally Democratic and ideologically liberal state. The best case scenario for Republicans — and one that’s happened before — is if the Democrats have a very messy primary and wind up nominating a damaged opponent.”

UMass Boston political scientist Maurice Cunningham offered a blunt assessment, saying that he thinks the Democratic Party has already accomplished its mission by getting Baker out of the race.

“As it stands the Republicans have a negligible chance to win the governorship,” Cunningham told NewBostonPost in an email message. “But since the far right’s real goal was to purge moderates from the party, GOP chair Jim Lyons has already had a successful 2022.”

And Suffolk University political scientist Kenneth Cosgrove said Republicans need a candidate that transcends party politics. If not, he says they’re in trouble.

Cosgrove told NewBostonPost by email:


The problem that the MA GOP has is that its best candidates run for statewide office as individuals first and Republicans second. Charlie Baker and Mitt Romney share that trait. They were branded individuals more than bearers of a partisan standard and the current governor was openly sparring with his own party as organization. The party organization and the incumbent governor who nominally is their standard bearer doing something like publicly a year before the election proves my point about people succeeding as individuals first then Republicans second.

The question is do Republicans have another individual like Governors Baker or Romney who could run as individuals first and Republicans second while keeping Republican voters on board and attracting enough independents and fiscally moderate to conservative Democrats to win ? If they can do that then they can win. If they nominate a Trumpian populist that’s going to be a much tougher route to the Corner Office. The marketplace for those kind of candidates likely isn’t big enough to win in Massachusetts and its not likely that they would attract the above noted swing voters. The only hope that they would have at that point is that the Democrats nominate their most progressive possible candidates but that too might not work for Republicans because it would have the effect of opening the middle part of the electorate (where most of the voters are) and making a third party candidate viable.


The 2022 Massachusetts gubernatorial general election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8.


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