Ted Kennedy’s Struggles in Boston

I was listening to Laurence O’Donnell on the David Axelrod podcast and they talked about race issues in Boston in the 1970s and how Ted Kennedy had real problems in parts of Boston because of his support for busing.

Looking at Kennedy’s Senate results over time shows this. In 1970, three times as many Boston voters left the U.S. Senate race blank (15.8%) compared to voters statewide (5.3%). In 1976, twice as many Boston voters left the U.S. Senate race blank (8.1% Boston-4.0% Statewide). This difference narrowed over time except for a spike in 2000.

In 1970, Kennedy did only 2.5 points better in Boston than he did statewide. In 1976, he did worse in Boston (63.6%) than he did statewide (66.6%). In later elections, Kennedy expanded his support every year and significantly outperformed in Boston than he did in the rest of the state.

Racial issues poisoned Boston in the 1970s and Ted Kennedy was not immune from it.