June 04, 2015

After I noticed the May 28 advertisement in MassterList for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance’s remarkable “poll” (okay, fraudulent poll as I argued here and here) about MBTA reform, I began to wonder what kind of audience there might be for it.

Since the ad was on the MassterList I reasoned that it must be intended to reach political elites, the folks who read that summary of political news each day. I clicked on the ad link and found that MFA had released poll results on May 18 and May 26, so I looked on MassterList for those days and on May 19 and 27 for stories about the poll. Nothing.

MassterList is the way to start the day but the way to end the day is with the Boston Globe’s “Political Happy Hour,” so I looked into those dates. Nothing.

Boston Globe, Boston Herald, WBUR, WGBH. Nothing.

State House News Service did release a story centered on the poll, and a Lexis-Nexis search shows that it appeared in the Lowell Sun on May 18 and 19 and the Berkshire Eagle on May 18. The Sentinel and Enterprise of Fitchburg had a quote in a political roundup column on June 1. Same in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle of May 30, found via Google News.

The SHNS service reported that the MFA was going door to door in the State House touting their poll to senators. A Republican press conference was held where GOP senators praised the poll. There was no indication that the poll swayed anyone else. Why would it? Senators are politically sophisticated actors, not to be pushed around by a fraudulent poll.

So I went digging a bit further. I remembered that the Massachusetts Republican Party likes to broadcast good news, so I checked out their web site. I scrolled down their Press Shop. Nothing. Updates on the home page from Twitter and Facebook. Nothing. The governor’s official web site. Nothing.

The state party has been rallying supporters to attend hearings on the MBTA so maybe they hype the poll in their email to supporters. I can’t say. Perhaps a few unsophisticated voters have heeded the Alliance’s call to contact their senators.

Now why, you might ask, aren’t all these political elites paying attention to Mass Fiscal Alliance’s poll? And if you’ve been reading my posts recently, you realize it’s because these professionals know a fake when they see one.

I imagine that if a few folks contact their senators that is all to the good for the governor but he shouldn’t want to get close to the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. Touting a poll like this one isn’t exactly a banner of credibility and the group’s capacity to embarrass is potent.

A few weeks ago I noted that Senate President Stan Rosenberg stated that some people want to use the MBTA’s woes as an ideological opening to attack unions. That is a likely agenda of the Mass Fiscal Alliance, probably more so than getting the trains to run on time. That is not the battle Governor Baker should want to fight. He wants to concentrate on the narrower issue of improving management at the T, which in his estimation calls for some adjustment in labor relations. The Alliance has an ideological agenda. Governor Baker has a governing agenda.

Governor Baker did not run an ideological campaign and was not elected to be an ideologue. He was elected to fix the “stuff” (as he might say) that has gone wrong under the Democrats. Picking an ideological fight with the entire AFL-CIO and the Democrats in the legislature would imperil his governorship and make re-election tenuous indeed.

This has been quite a lesson for me. Until seeing the advertisement I had little interest in the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. That’s the power of advertising for you.

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, Charlie Baker, MBTA

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