Massachusetts is where Romney moved for graduate school, ran a business, raised a family and served as governor. In pursuit of the presidency, however, Romney has all but ignored the state that was his launching pad.
While Romney’s studied moderation appealed to voters when he was elected to govern this traditionally liberal state, his bare ambition for higher office and lurch to the right made some people here distrust him. Some voters here who supported Romney in the early years of his governorship now say they feel abandoned by him, and more than half of the state’s voters hold an unfavorable opinion of Romney, according to a poll last month.
“Massachusetts to him was just a steppingstone,” said Judy Eisel-DeGrinney, 70. “Folks feel he was disingenuous, that he used us to further his political ambitions. He had no allegiance to us.” She said she did not vote for Romney in 2002 but admired his balancing of the budget and other actions in his first term. Then he announced he would not seek a second term and, in speeches to conservative activists out of state, started bashing Massachusetts as a liberal bastion. That’s when he lost her.
Andrew E. Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center, which conducts polling in Massachusetts, said, “There was an undercurrent that in his last two years in office he was already running for president and neglecting his duties as governor.”
The result is a presidential nominee who, more than any other in recent history, has distanced himself from his home state and is unpopular with the voters who know him best.
In certain respects that is not a surprise. Under the best circumstances, it is unlikely any Republican nominee could come close in Massachusetts, which has been one of the most reliably Democratic states in presidential elections in the past 11 campaigns, according to the Almanac of American Politics.
Yet the level of disregard for Romney seems to go beyond typical partisan politics. This is more than the kind of loathing that liberals in Austin once expressed for George W. Bush; instead, Romney seems to lack any strong base in his adopted home state, with voters across the state, including former supporters, expressing varying degrees of dissatisfaction and distrust.
That is true even here, in what might come closest to qualifying as “Romney Country,” at the heart of the state’s high-tech corridor, about a 45-minute drive west of Boston on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Mary Scott, a registered independent, said she voted for Romney in 2002 because she thought he would make things easier on small-business owners like herself.