CHARLIE BAKER’s BOSTON ACHIEVEMENT

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^ Governor Baker at Santarpio’s in East Boston visiting Senator Joe Boncore’s Election Day lunch. (Boncore standing next to Baker. StRep Jay Livingstone next, then District One Councillor Lydia Edwards, then local business leader Tony Portillo. In front : Gladys Oliveros and Bob Boncore)

NOTE : this column will be a long read, with many statistics shown. If statistics aren’t your thing, skip over them.

On election day, on his way to a 67 to 33 percent win statewide, Governor Baker won 49.5 percent of the Boston vote, losing to Jay Gonzalez by only one percentage point. The actual numbers : Baker 107,108; Gonzalez 110,187. (5150 voters blanked the race). The total turnout — 222,445 — rose by 68,000 from the 2014 mid-term.

In 2014, Baker won 48.5 statewide, 30 percent in Boston. This time he won 67 percent statewide, 49.5 in Boston. Relative to the state, Boston barely moved : from 18.5 points more Democratic than the state to 17.5 percent.  But Baker’s lift was not uniform. In some neighborhoods his vote rose more than in in others; in some, much more. Let’s look at some sample neighborhoods, precinct by precinct :

Ward One — East Boston

Baker 5006 Gonzalez 4704 (2018) (Baker53%) Baker 2620 Coakley 3982 (2014)(Baker38%)

By precinct :

One       Baker 50.5 / 49.4 (2018)    Baker 33 – 61.4 (2014)  Baker gain : + 17.5 %

Two      Baker 43.7 / 56.4 (2018)     Baker 33.6 / 60 (2014)  Baker gain : + 10.1 +

Three   Baker 45.6 / 54.1 (2018)     Baker 26.3 / 68.3 ( 2014) Baker gain : + 19.3

Four     Baker 45.5 / 53.7 (2018)     Baker 31.5 / 59.6 (2014)   Baker gain : + 14

Five      Baker 50.2 / 49.5 (2018)    Baker 35.7 / 59.5 (2014)   Baker gain : + 14.5

Six       Baker 46.4 / 53.3 (2018)     Baker 31.4 / 61.1 (2014)   Baker gain : + 15

Seven  Baker 44.1 / 55.2 (2018)     Baker 30.2 / 61.1 (2014)   Baker gain : + 13.9

Eight   Baker 46.6 / 52.8 (2018)     Baker 34.9 / 61.3 (2014)   Baker gain : + 11.7

Nine : Baker 47 / 52 (2018)           Baker 30.3 / 62.2 (2014)    Baker gain : + 16.7

Ten     Baker 48.9 / 51.2 (2018)    Baker 30.5 / 63 (2014)       Baker gain : + 18.4

Eleven – Baker 61.8 / 38.1 (18)    Baker 47.2 / 46.9 (2014)    Baker gain : + 14.6

Twelve  Baker 65.6 / 34 (2018)   Baker 54.2 / 40.8 (2014)    Baker gain : + 11.2

13th      Baker 58 / 41.6 (2018)    Baker 43.7 / 52.2  (2014)   Baker gain : + 14.3

14th      Baker 60.2 / 36 (2018)    Baker 48.4 / 48.4 (2014)    Baker gain : + 11.8

In East Boston, Baker gained most in the Jeffries Point region (1 and 3), Salesians (11), and the part of Eagle Hill running from the High School to above Day Square (9 and 10). In 2014 he fared poorly with young professionals (Jeffries Point) and Latino voters (precincts 6 through 10). Not so this time. Even with an opponent named Gonzalez, Baker came close to winning East Boston’s Hispanic precincts. Yet his outreach to non-traditional voters did not cost him “traditional” support. Indeed, his vote share among long-time Eastie voters (precincts 11 through 14) improved measurably.

Now Charlestown (Ward Two) :

Baker 5774  Gonzalez  2624 (yes, you read that right. Baker won Charlestown 69.8 to 30.2 — almost three points better than the statewide. I cannot recall when a Republican managed such a result or anything even close. In 2014 Baker narrowly lost Charlestown to Martha Coakley, 47.8 percent to 49.3. This in itself was a remarkable result — his Charlestown number was only 1.2 points less than his statewide. This time his number improved in Charlestown by a full 22 points. It was his best Boston neighborhood.

South End, Seaport, Chinatown, bay Village, Downtown

If Baker’s vote gain in was remarkable in Charlestown, in these five neighborhoods it rose beyond all prediction. There were precincts in which Baker’s vote percent increased by 23, 24, even 30 points from his 2014 results:

Ward 3 Precinct 7 ( Chinatown) :  this time, 56.3 / 43.6; in 2014, 32.8 / 59.6

Ward 4 Precinct 1 (South End) : this time, Baker 56.1 / 43.9; in 2014, 33.7 / 63.2

Ward 4 Precinct 3 (South End) : this time, Baker 56.9 / 43.2  in 2014, 32.4 / 63

Ward 5 Precinct 1 (bay Village) : this time, Baker 56.9 / 43; in 2014, 33.8 / 63.8

Ward 6 Precinct 1 (seaport) : this time, baker 60.3 / 39.3; in 2014, 38.3 / 58

Ward 8 Precinct 1 (Cathedral) this time, Baker 43 / 56.6; in 2014, 16.6 / 81.5 (yes, a 27 point gain !)

Ward 9 Precinct 1 (Villa Victoria): this time, baker 48.9 / 51; in 2014, 18.3 / 78.5 (you read this right. Baker gained 30 points in this part of the South End, home to Villa Victoria, the City’s foundational Puerto Rican community.)

Blue Hill Avenue and Mattapan: 

If Baker’s numbers in the above neighborhoods stun the reader, what will be her reaction upon eye-balling how he took hold of this part of Boston, the center of its African-American community. In the 21 precincts that include all of Ward 14 plus the Matttapan seven of Ward 18, Baker tallied these numbers this time :

Baker 5573 Gonzalez 8074

That doesn’t look so good: but consider how Baker did in these same precincts in 2014 :

Baker 781 Coakley 10,620

From winning barely seven percent of this region’s vote he gained about 41 percent. How did he do it ? By hiring a full staff of community activists for outreach  — both in Room 280 and on the campaign — and by attending doggedly to community events and never letting go. And by being just as likable a guy as there is. More on this aspect of Baker later.

As I have noted, Baker achieved his successes with voters not part of his 2014 win without losing any of his stalwarts. Indeed, he gained strength in those stalwart neighborhoods :

Ward 16 Dorchester :

Baker 5539  Gonzalez  3668  (Baker won eight of 12 precincts,. including precinct 12 with 80.7 percent of the vote) (63 percent for Baker)

in 2014 :  Baker 3065 Coakley 4431  (Baker won only two of the ward’s 12 precincts; 39.5 percent for Baker)

West Roxbury (15 precincts of Ward 20):

Baker 9,115  Gonzalez 5,008   65 percent. (Baker won every precinct.)

in 2014 :  Baker 6080  Coakley  6003 Baker 50.5 percent.  (Baker won only eight of 15 precincts, most narrowly)

And of course, South Boston, where in his four best precincts he won 74 to 76 percent of the vote.

—- —- —- —-

Baker did not triumph everywhere in Boston. One of his weakest showings was the Hyde Square (Jamaica Plain) vote, which included his worst precinct in the entire city, Ward 19 Precinct One :

Baker 1431 Gonzalez 3476 (Baker 29%)

Yet even this pale result improved a ton from his 2014 vote in the same five precincts :

Baker 452 Coakley 2664

…and in Ward 10, Precinct 7 — Bromley-Heath Project, where he and State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez officiated at a major youth gathering back in March, Baker’s 29.8% represented a 21.8 percent lift from his 8.6 percent there in 2014.  It was one of his largest Boston precinct vote gains.

Sanchez, the State’s legislative budget chief, was eventually defeated, narrowly, by Nika Elugardo — to most observers a surprise result. She assaulted Sanchez for not insisting that the FY 2019 Budget include the Safe Communities Act — even though that act had no chance of passage. (More about the implications of this argument later.) Elugardo lives in Ward 19 Precinct One. It was Baker’s bleakest precinct in the entire city — 23.2 percent — yet in 2014 he won only 10 percent in it. His 13.2 percent improvement was quite weaker than his city-wide improvement — 19.5 percent, yet it more than doubled his 2014 percent there. In 2014, only 69 people in “19/1” voted for Baker. This time, 233 of “19/1” voters chose him.

The rest of Jamaica Plain’s precincts proved nearly as resistant to Baker’s persuasion. With the exception of the “Moss Hill” precinct (19/2), which Baker won — albeit by not a lot : 621 to 532, 53.8 percent to 46 — the Governor cracked 40 percent in only one precinct; in seven, he was under 30 percent. And if that’s much better than the eight to 21 percent that he won in 2014 in these precincts, it still represents a sizable vote of no confidence.

Baker’s Jamaica Plain vote fell short of the little that he won in Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and the Amherst region : the state’s “progressive” vote base. In Somerville, 35.2; Cambridge, 34.2; Northampton, 35; greater Amherst, 32.2. There weren’t many precincts anywhere in Massachusetts where Baker won less than his Jamaica Plain percent and probably none where he polled lower than his 23.2 in Ward 19, Precinct One.

That said, Baker’s Boston vote highlights the gap between Citywide voter sentiment and that of the “progressives.” Many media got giddy about “progressive” wins in the Democratic primary, but these were few, even if Ayanna Pressley’s 59 to 41 trouncing of Congressman Mike Capuano — attributed to progressive energy — deserved every headline it got. Pressley’s win arose from much more voter discontent than among progressives — long incumbency has often been an obstacle in this “change” year.

Baker ‘s Boston vote clarifies the city’s prevailing vote opinion : reformist, but cautious; civil rights stalwart, but economically scrupulous. Call it “business reformism” if you like, or “social liberal – economic conservative, as many observers do: whichever your rubric, Boston voters once again confirmed Massachusetts’s long-standing, basic policy preferences: we’re inclusive, but we’re not tax-aholic. We’re a city of immigrants, but we’re not hell bent for confrontation with the Feds. We’re not ready to burn our political bridges or storm barricades. We trust the political process to get it right.

That’s Baker to a T. Reform without drama. Inclusion, as a principle, not a defiance. Do your job, not show out.

Baker is the epitome of an institutional man ? Well, so is Boston, as the state’s capital city, and home to one of the nation’s most powerful Mayors, an institutional city. We’re accustomed to institutional governance, institutional participation, institutional economics, institutional education, institutional finance, institutional charity, and institutional medicine. Heck, in Boston a very substantial percentage of all of us work for one of our institutions. The city’s “progressives” — and the state’s — may dislike the bulk presence and sluggish ways of institutional life, but their desire to hurry the processes strike the rest of us as a kind of Humpty Dumpty falling, and their readiness to divide the community, if need be, to get their way — witness the votes that Nika Elugardo won by attacking Sanchez on his decision to drop the un-enact-able Safe Communities Act from his proposed budget — strikes most of us as grossly irresponsible. Innovation needs to find a smarter path (and for many activist innovators, it has found one).

If the Baker Boston vote was a message for anything, it was that a Governor, and government, should do the responsible thing. Even when innovating.

It also helps that Baker is as a easy going a guy as you’ll see in high places. It doesn’t hurt to be the “selfie king” — as he is — in the era of instagram. People flat-out LIKE Charlie Baker, and he likes them. Politicians always hug babies, but for Baker, convening with kids seems a passion. He enjoys their presence. Partly that’s because he’s something of a kid himself. He’s a fan of 1970s-80s rock bands — who hasn’t seen his contributions to David Bernstein’s “song challenge” facebook posts ? — and knows his stuff. Clearly it’s not just a pose.

Combine the likable Charlie Baker with Governor Baker the master of institutional governance, and you’ve got a landslide’s worth of political good.

Nor was that all Baker had working for him in Boston. He also had political clout. In the 15 precincts that make up the Hyde Park, Roslindale, and Readville parts of Ward 18, Baker tallied 7366 to Gonzalez’s 7530. That he came close to winning Boston’s biggest and most sprawling Ward had no Republican precedent since the early 1990s, and only one like it since at least the 1970s. How did he do it ? Consider that in 2014, Baker lost these precincts to Martha Coakley 3158 to 8380, a 29 percent vote share. This time he won 49.2 percent. In some precincts he improved by 25 points and more. So I ask again, how did he do it ? He did it by having the active, vocal, door-knocking support of the entire local political establishment : State Representative Angelo Scaccia; City Councillor Tim McCarthy; Register of Deeds Stephen Murphy; and, to cap it off, the son and daughter in law of the late Mayor Tom Menino. And their entire followings.

In Boston, political support has institutional heft. You can’t get from wanting to a win without it.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere