Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Paging the Patrick Spin Machine

CNBC yesterday released their annual rankings of the Top States for Business.  In past years, the release of the rankings has been met with much fanfare here in Massachusetts as Governor Deval Patrick has used Massachusetts’ placement near the top of the list as proof that his policies are working for our state.  Patrick and his campaign repeatedly cited our 5th place ranking in 2010 throughout the course of the governor’s race (“faster, stronger,” “on the mend and on the move” and whatnot).

Well, yesterday’s rankings don’t look so good for Massachusetts as we dropped from 6th place overall in 2011 to 28th place overall in 2012 (and dropped to 49th in the cost of doing business).  CNBC noted this was the largest drop of any state.  As with unfavorable revisions of jobs numbers, we can expect the Patrick administration to have some explanation as to why this data, which was previously an accurate reflection of how good our state is for businesses, is no longer trustworthy.  I can only hope this explanation will be as good as Secretary Greg Bialecki’s glorious “the old number feels like the better description.”

This newly unflattering data could also prove problematic for Governor Patrick as he continues to travel the nation as a top surrogate for President Obama (and top attack dog against former governor Mitt Romney). 

Patrick’s message on the stump has been that the things President Obama wants to do for the nation (investment in infrastructure, education and innovation) are the same things that have helped Massachusetts “lead the nation out of the recession.”  Since Patrick took office, CNBC’s ranking of Massachusetts on Education, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Technology and Innovation have all declined.  On Education and Technology and Innovation we are still in the top ten (3rd and 7th respectively, down from 1st and 4th in 2007), but in Transportation and Infrastructure, we now rank 45th in the nation (down from 38 in 2007 and a peak of 29 in 2011).

Massachusetts Rankings in CNBC's Top States for Business Reports:

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Overall 12 15 8 5 6 28
Cost of Biz 40 41 40 39 41 49
Workforce 26 34 26 23 31 32
Quality of Life 3 15 6 6 10 11
Economy 41 25 12 17 15 21
Infra and Transp 38 36 31 39 29 45
Tech and Innov 4 4 5 3 3 7
Education 1 1 1 1 4 3
Biz Friendliness 13 13 17 14 15 29
Access to Capital 2 2 2 2 2 1
Cost of Living 43 42 36 40 41 41

Massachusetts is still doing better than the national economy in terms of employment, but our rankings on the “investments” Patrick highlights have gotten worse as our unemployment rate has gotten better, which means there may not be the causal link Patrick suggests.

The fact that Massachusetts has declined in most categories since Patrick took office also undermines his attacks on Mitt Romney on behalf of the Obama campaign.  In addition to leaving Massachusetts with a lower unemployment rate than we now have, it would appear that Governor Romney left Massachusetts a better state for businesses than it has become under Governor Patrick’s leadership.

Of course, Patrick tends not to let facts that contradict his narrative get in the way of good rhetoric, so I don’t expect he’ll actually change his stump speech.  But the Obama campaign should be wary of touting Massachusetts' economy under Governor Patrick as a model to emulate.  The idea of a second Obama term’s doing for the national economy what Patrick’s second term seems to be doing for Massachusetts is reason enough to vote for Mitt Romney.

[MORE: CNBC Ranking - Big News to No News]


  1. Great stuff Daisy. And no, I'm not "celebrating failure." There is no satisfaction to be found in this confirmation that so much of what we said in 2010 was right, and so much of what came out of the Governor's mouth wrong. We already knew that...

    Fun fact: Shortly before CNBC released its full list, revealing MA as the single fastest-tumbling state in the nation - the State House News ran with this gem: "CNBC on Tuesday is rolling out its latest list of the top states to do business and Massachusetts appears to be competing for the top spot with Georgia, Colorado and perhaps another dark horse state. CNBC on Tuesday announced Utah as number 2, Virginia as number 3, North Carolina as number 4, and North Dakota, propelled by its oil shale business, as number 5 in its new state rankings. CNBC plans to announce the top state at 4:30 p.m. 'Our investing in innovation, education & infrastructure is why we're a top state for businesses,' Gov. Deval Patrick tweeted from the governor's account on Tuesday afternoon." Just before sliding with a bullet all the way down to 29, in other words, the Governor thought we had a shot at number ONE. The fact that he is legitimately (and blissfully) unaware of the damage his policies are doing to this state is just scary.

    49th in cost of doing business... 49th! And yet the Governor and the Legislature are even now working on an "energy" bill that will double mandates on utilities to buy high-cost renewable energy... thereby DELIBERATELY driving our cost of business even higher. Watch out Hawaii - we have our eye on that 50 spot. If we can't be first, we might as well be first-worst.

  2. Fantastic work Daisy! Meanwhile Patrick jets off to Chicago for a rally!

  3. LABEL YOUR AXIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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