Massachusetts politics

About Massachusetts politics


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is often categorized politically as socially progressive and liberal. The two main political parties are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

 The commonwealth, especially Boston, is known for having a passion for politics.


The state was politically dominated by Federalists until the mid-1820s, a much longer period than in other states. From then until the 1850s, it was dominated by the Whig Party, which presented a socially liberal but pro-business agenda, against a fractured Democratic Party and occasional single-issue third parties. In 1850, the Democrats made common cause with the abolitionist Free Soil Party to gain control of both the governor's seat and the state legislature for the first time. 

This coalition did not last, and the existing party structures were effectively wiped out by the 1853 landslide victory of the Know Nothing movement, which enacted major reform legislation during its three years in power.

After the Civil War, radical “Massachusetts politics” faded in popularity. With Reconstruction failing, the progressive climate gave way into a conservative one, and civil rights groups disappeared as Boston melted into the mainstream of American politics. During the first half of the 1900s, Boston was socially conservative and strongly under the influence of Methodist minister, J. Frank Chase and his New England Watch and Ward Society, founded in 1878. In the 1920s, Democrats Joseph Buell Ely (governor in the early 1930s) and David I. Walsh (governor in the 1910s, then US Senator) successfully organized a wide array of liberal Yankees, Irish Americans, and other immigrant groups (eastern Europeans, Italians, Greeks, and French Canadians among them) into an effective party structure, that has since come to dominate the state's political establishment. 

Massachusetts has a bicameral state legislature, collectively known as the Massachusetts General Court. It is made of the 160-seat Massachusetts House of Representatives and the 40-seat Massachusetts Senate. 

The Massachusetts Democratic Party holds large super majorities in both houses. The Governor of Massachusetts is the executive of the state government and is elected every four year. 

Massachusetts is the home of the Kennedy family, and routinely votes for the Democratic Party in federal elections: currently all representatives and both senators are Democrats.