The electorate has spoken, now it’s my turn on the winners and losers from this wild 2016 campaign season.
ERNIE BOCH JR. & JIM DAVIS -- It was hard to find prominent Trump supporters, but these two were not afraid to pledge their allegiance: Boch, the CEO of Subaru of New England, and Davis, the chairman of New Balance. Boch even held a raucous rally at his Norwood mansion last year, complete with the candidate arriving in a stretch SUV and professing his love for Tom Brady. Boch told me he hasn’t been asked to join the administration, but he would consider it. Secretary of Transportation Boch? As for Davis, a Trump victory likely means the demise of the Pacific Rim Trade deal, which New Balance has opposed because it would make it harder for the sneaker company’s factories to compete. But until then, New Balance may pay the price from anti-Trump customers who are burning their sneaks and boycotting the brand in protest.
STEVE WYNN -- Luck was on the casino mogul’s side when voters resoundingly rejected Question 1, a ballot measure to expand the gaming law. Voters said no to a second slots parlor, which proponents were trying to open in Revere. That was too close for comfort for Wynn, who is building a $2.1 billion gambling palace next door in Everett.
EARLY VOTING – Procrastination? Not when it comes to casting a ballot. For the first time in Massachusetts, residents could vote as early as two weeks before Election Day. Over 1 million people -- or some 30 percent of state voters -- took advantage of the new rule (including Boch). Why didn’t we do this sooner?
AFFORDABLE HOUSING - Voters in Boston approved Question 5, a ballot measure that would establish a Community Preservation Act in the city and increase property taxes. They said yes to levying a 1 percent surcharge, money which can be used on housing, open space, and historic preservation. The fund is expected to raise about $20 million annually, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has said his priority for the money is to create thousands of units of affordable housing. Walsh gets an honorable mention here for becoming an early supporter of the tax hike; a similar measure failed in 2001 under predecessor Tom Menino, who gave an endorsement only a few days before the vote.
CHARLIE BAKER – What? Wasn’t our governor possibly the biggest loser on Election Night other than Hillary Clinton? Baker, who can be ever so cautious, gets props for sticking his neck out on two ballot questions. Not only did Baker back Question 2 to lift the cap on charter schools, he even appeared in a TV commercial. On marijuana, Baker joined forces with Mayor Walsh and Attorney General Maura Healey to urge voters to reject Question 4 that would legalize recreational marijuana. On Tuesday night, Baker found himself on the losing side in both cases -- with Question 2 defeated and Question 4 approved. (I know how it feels.) Perhaps that’s why the governor chose to stay home on Election Night. (Me, too.)
EDUCATION – With voters overwhelmingly saying no to more charter schools, is it a new dawn in education? No. That’s the sad thing about the contentious and expensive battle over these alternative schools for which both sides spent at least $41 million combined. The measure would have allowed up to 12 new or expanded charters a year. The no side painted the rise of charters as bad apples draining money from the rest of the public education system. It was a simplistic scare tactic that unfortunately worked.
BUSINESS COMMUNITY -- A parade of groups in town -- including the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Massachusetts Business Roundtable, Alliance for Business Leadership -- doubled down on lifting the charter school cap. Why? Kids in urban charters show real gains over peers in traditional public schools, and employers want better-educated workers. The ballot measure was so badly rejected it may put the future of charter schools in jeopardy. In other words, the fight over charters may not be over. Business leaders should brush off their bruising loss and make sure these schools continue to thrive.
BEACON HILL – Tsk, tsk for leaving two important policy issues to be done via ballot petition: charter school expansion and the legalization of marijuana. Ballot measures are a messy way to create laws. Legislators tried to strike a deal on charter schools in the spring, but failed miserably. After Colorado became the first state to legalize weed in 2014, the movement clearly was heading east. Lawmakers chose to let the voters decide -- and in doing so, let the marijuana industry drive the agenda at the expense of consumers and the Commonwealth.
BILL WELD -- It seemed like a good idea at the time. The former Massachusetts governor ditched the GOP to run as vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket with former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. Weld didn’t do it to win but rather as a shot at shaping election issues by getting enough votes to appear in the televised debates. Well, then Johnson had his “What is Aleppo?” moment. By the end, Weld was denouncing Trump and all but stumping for Clinton. File under waste of time.
POLLSTERS -- Just about all of them predicted a Clinton victory, comfortably scooping up the 270 electoral college votes to clinch the presidency. She won only 228. Even Nate Silver’s vaunted FiveThirtyEight operation got it wrong, and a blog post on his site explains that it might take months to figure out why so many polls were off the mark. Theories range from female voters reluctant to admit they support Trump to Trump backers distrustful of poll calls.
TOM BRADY and BILL BELICHICK -- Our favorite quarterback and football coach made headlines this week after Trump thanked them them publicly for their support. That sent Patriot Nation into a tizzy, especially since Clinton won handily in liberal Massachusetts. Neither Brady nor Belichick would divulge whom they voted for; Brady coyly explained that his supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen told him “I can’t talk about politics anymore.” It’s a toss up whether Brady and Belichick are winners because they picked a winner -- or losers because the quarterback and coach got so much flak for being cozy with Trump. I have a feeling this might happen a lot over the next four years.