Friday, July 10, 2009

Anti-casino voters not at home among Dems

David makes a good point in his addendum over at BMG. Basically, that anti-gambling voters are not going to be interested in voting for any current or former Democrats running for governor unless they are pushed in that direction by an egregious Republican candidate...

  • Cahill loves gambling and would station slot machines inside elementary schools if he thought he could get away with it.
  • Deval Patrick "only" wants at least one resort casino in Mass.
Of course, the issue is that Republicans often present themselves as neolithics against marriage equality, any abortion, and basically on the losing side of mid-90s culture war issues. If Massachusetts Republicans can avoid that, then anti-gambling folks might give them a listen.

Now, living in a town that may end up hosting such a casino does tend to focus the mind greatly on gambling, and people distant to the issue may not realize how quickly it rises up the priority list for such a voter. I suspect that gambling may be an issue that is either nearly irrelevant to picking a candidate, or very relevant -- not in between. However, anyone who cares deeply about gambling is going to be hard-pressed to give Cahill or Patrick his/her trust on the matter.

If Mihos or Baker can minimize hot-button issues from the past (abortion, gay marriage) and collect those anti-gambling voters, that would be the foundation to a strong coalition. Mihos has come out against casinos, but favors slots at racing tracks, something that makes him a real player in my neighborhood of SE Mass. I would also note that Mihos has taken my advice and is labeling himself an "Independent Republican" for governor on his website.

In 2007, a poll found that about 1/3 of unenrolled voters and 1/3 of Democrats were against Deval's proposal. About 1/5 of those groups are strongly against the proposal. If Baker or Mihos can neutralize the hot-button issues while coming out strongly and smartly against gambling, they would be the natural candidate for that 20% of the electorate -- including people who may have been with Deval in 2006.

PS: Another nugget from the poll -- Martha Coakley had +66 net favorability among Democrats, +29 net favorability among unenrolled, and +9 favorability among Republicans. That would drop in any race, but I really have to believe this woman has a future in this state.

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