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Red Massachusetts?

An interesting snippet from today's Rasmussen poll is that Barack Obama leads John McCain by only 49% to 42% in Massachusetts, the bluest of blue states. McCain also has a (slightly) higher approval rating than Obama.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: with a moderate Republican nominee and Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate, there's an even chance that Massachusetts will go red. This alone seems to put something of a dent in the conventional wisdom that Obama is obviously the stronger Democratic general election candidate. If he fares this poorly in Massachusetts, what does that say about his prospects nationally? To be sure, there are a variety of local factors here, the big one being that the state has a lot of white ethnic, "Reagan Democrat" voters for whom race might be more of an issue than it would for other constituencies. Yes, Deval Patrick, a black man, won the governorship overwhelmingly in 2006, but he faced lackluster competition (Mitt Romney's hand-picked successor). And a Scots-Irish war veteran as the Republican nominee complicates predictions about whom Kennedy Country will support come November.

--James Kirchick