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Massachusetts GOP Believe Romney Needs to Explain Health Care

In our inaugural “Red Commonwealth" survey, influential Republicans paint an early picture for November's general election.

An overwhelming majority of influential state Republicans say former governor Mitt Romney has missed an opportunity so far in the presidential race by not explaining Romneycare and how it differs from Obamacare: that’s the finding of this week’s inaugural Red Commonwealth survey of influential conservatives.  

When Patch asked Massachusetts Republicans what part of Romney's record as Massachusetts governor he has explained poorly to conservatives, one respondent said:

"Romney has not adequately explained the difference between the Massachusetts version of universal healthcare and the federal version." 

Ninety percent of survey responders agreed Romney had missed an opportunity on Romneycare. 

Another respondent said Romney has not done a good job of explaining "how his initial draft of health care was amended by the Legislature and changed considerably with expensive provisions."

One hundred and five Massachusetts Republicans were surveyed last week in Patch’s inaugural Red Commonwealth poll, which focused on November’s biggest race.

Forty responses were collected.

When asked if they thought President Obama has done a good job of negatively explaining Mitt Romney's economic accomplishments, 50 percent of respondents said they either somewhat disagree or disagree with the statement.

But when influencers were asked if they felt Romney has done a good job of explaining his own economic accomplishments as governor of Massachusetts, 38 percent said they only somewhat agree with the statement.

"Most conservatives know that Mitt accomplished a lot just by keeping a lid on spending and taxes with a legislature that had a supermajority of Democrats able to over ride any veto. This is why it is difficult to explain nationwide because most states are not in that situation," one respondent wrote.

When asked which part of Romney's record as governor he has explained well, a plurality of the responders focused on taxes.

"He managed a fiscal crisis," one person said.

Other Republicans pointed to Romney's work stimulating the state economy, balancing the budget and not raising taxes as governor.

"He did not raise state taxes while governor. Unemployment went down during his time at the State House. With a nearly all-Democrat legislature he tried to maintain marriage as between a man and woman."

Several other respondents noted Romney's work in a Democratically-controlled legislature.

"I think it illustrates a lot of the frustration that GOP insiders are having with the Romney campaign," said Andrew Smith, associate professor of Political Science and director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

"But their responses also show how complicated and nuanced the explanation would have to be, and how difficult that is in a campaign."

Red Commonwealth Survey

Our surveys are not a scientific, random sample of any larger population, but rather an effort to listen to a group of influential local Republican activists, party leaders, candidates and elected officials in Massachusetts. All of these individuals have agreed to participate in Massachusetts’s Patch’s surveys, although not all responded to this story’s questions. Surveys were conducted from July 8 to July 13, 2012.

Patch will be conducting Red Commonwealth and Blue Commonwealth surveys throughout the 2012 election season in hopes of determining the true sentiment of conservatives and progressives on the ground in Massachusetts.

If you are an activist, party leader or elected official and would like to take part in periodic surveys that last just a few minutes, please contact Associate Regional Editor Katie Curley-Katzman at Katherine@patch.com.

Red Commonwealth Survey Roster: Patrick Rahilly (North Andover lawyer), Chris Barrett (former Romney staffer, Lynnfield), Tom Terranova (Lynnfield CPA), Jack Buba (Marblehead Republican Committee), Amy Carnevale (Chair of Marblehead Republican Committee), Sharon Randall (Marblehead Republican Committee), Rosemary Smedile (North Andover Republican), Bernie Green (Medford Republican Committee), Mark Crowley (Medford Republican Committee), David Carnevale (former state senate candidate from Medford), John Dorr (small business owner from Medford), Jim Morse (retired firefighter, Medford), Don Ordway (Tewksbury GOP committee), Doug Sears (Tewksbury Republican), Jeff Stinson (Hamilton selectman, political director for Richard Tisei), Brad Hill (State Representative), Elaine Appel (Hamilton Republican Committee), Harriet Davis (former selectman from Wenham), Randy Hunt (State Representative), Bill Doherty (County Commissioner, Cape Cod), John McCarthy (Peabody Republican), Jarrod Hochman (Peabody Republican), Chuck Holden (Peabody Republican), Scott Frasca (Peabody Republican), Evan Kenney (Republican Caucus alternate, Wakefield), Joseph O'Keefe (Salem city councilor), Tracy Lawrence (Salem Republican), Sean O'Brien (Salem Republican Committee), Todd Siegel (Salem city councilor), George Gerogountzos (candidate for state representative, Stoneham), Monica Medeiros (Melrose Republican Committee), Ted Cinella (Melrose Republican Committee), Andrew Applegate (Suffolk University), Chad Heipler (infrastructure manager), Meg Rowan (Republican), Teresa Perrier (Republican), Katelyn Regan (West Roxbury Republican), Brad Williams (GOP chair), John Golnik (Westford U.S. House of Representatives candidate), Tim Regan (Charlestown Republican), Lisa J. Murray (DMD), Lindsay DiNatale (Charlestown Republican), Ted Owens (Needham Republican), Alan Reiss (Wayland Republican), John Toto (Wayland Republican), Sue Pope (Wayland Republican), Kent George (Wayland Republican), John DiMascio (Watertown Republican), James Ridge (Watertown Republican), Steve Aylward (state committee), Laurie McManus (Watertown Republican committee), Francis Stanton (candidate for state rep.), Gerry Dembrowski (Woburn candidate), Evan Rice (Republican committee member), Dean Carvaretta (Acton candidate for state rep.), Jesse Segovia (Acton Republican), Michael Prisco (North Reading selectman), Bob Mauceri (selectman), Ben Tafoya (selectman), Jim Hatherly (town committee), Nancy Quimby (town committee), Brian McCarty (Sommerville town committee), Lena Robinson (party consultant, Marblehead), Peter Nicolas (Marblehead Town Committee), Brad Marston (Beacon Hill Republican), Joe Selvaggi (Beacon Hill Republican), Steven Jeffries (Beacon Hill Republican), Allan Zenowitz (state committee), Vonnie Boyle (state committee), Joseph Zarrella (Braintree, State House intern), Jim Powell (Martha's Vineyard Republican), Krista Lynch (North Andover Republican), Wayne Comeau (Danvers Town Committee), Dan Bennett (Danvers selectman), Val Wormell (Westford selectman), Angel Connell (Westford Republican), McKenzie-Hebert (Shrewsbury Republican), Ken Weisman (Hopkinton Republican), Brian Major (Andover Republican), James Lyons (state rep.), Alex Vispoli (Andover selectman), Paul Adams (candidate for state rep.), Marty Scafidi (Peabody Republican), Dick Gilmore (Danvers lawyer), Tom Weaver (candidate for Congress), Dylan Hayre (Westford Republican), Mario Marchese (Wilmington Town Committee), Dean Cavaretta (state sen. candidate), Philip Mitza (Sommerville activist), Thomas Vasconcelos (state rep. candidate), Richard Wise, (Salem Republican Committee), Michael Morales (Medford committee member), Mary Connaughton (Framingham Republican), Ed McGrath (state committee), James Bonazoli (Reading Selectman), Doug Obey (Westwood Town Committee), Ed Niell (Westwood Town Committee), Frank Herschede (Danvers Republican), Eleanor Hersey (Framingham Republican), Janet Leombruno (Framingham Republican).

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