The State of the Massachusetts Republican

By Sarah Birnbaum

Mar. 6, 2012

romney in ohio

Mitt Romney greets supporters at a town hall meeting in Youngstown, Ohio, on Mar. 5. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

 BOSTON — Massachusetts Republicans have the reputation of being different from Republicans around the country.
“Massachusetts Republican voters are more moderate on social issues for sure," said Tim Vercolatti, director of the Western New England University Polling Institute. "Now, you’re going to find exceptions to the rule, you’re going to find pockets of folks who are going to be more conservative socially. But in the aggregate, Massachusetts Republicans are still very different from Republicans in the South or in the West, in areas that are still pretty conservative."

What happened to the Yankee Republican? Strategists and voters discuss on "The Emily Rooney Show."

Vercolatti said the campaign rhetoric tends to be less about abortion rights and gay marriage, for instance, and more about fiscal responsibility: “Sort of the Main Street Chamber of Commerce Republican versus the evangelical Republican you’d find in the church pews in some other parts of the state."
In that respect, observers said, the state GOP hasn’t changed all that much from the last presidential primary four years ago. 

> >  Here's how Massachusetts Republicans voted in the 2008 primary.
But what has changed, according to long-term State Rep. Bradford Hill, a Republican from Ipswich, is the level of excitement.
"I think having Scott Brown get elected enthused a lot of Republicans here in Massachusetts," he said. "The fact of the matter is that once they saw we can elect Scott Brown to the United States Senate, they said if we can do it for Scott, we can do it for president, we can do it for the Senate, we can do it for the House." 
Registered Republicans make up only 11 percent of the electorate in Massachusetts. But in addition to electing Brown to the Senate, they’ve also elected three out of the last four governors.
The Polling Institute's most recent results, released on Mar. 5, found Mitt Romney leading the GOP pack in popularity, with 74 percent of registered Massachusetts Republican voters viewing him favorably. That's compared to a 33 percent favorability rating for Rick Santorum and 32 percent for Newt Gingrich. Read the findings.

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