Axios Boston

Picture of the Boston skyline

November 07, 2022

Welcome to Monday.

Today's weather: Still warm, around 75°.

Today's newsletter is 743 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Baker says the center is getting lost

Photo illustration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker with lines radiating from him.

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Erin Clark-Pool/Getty Images

With only a few months left in office, Gov. Charlie Baker is sounding the alarm about media trends he says will drive hyper-partisanship and alienate centrist voters.

Driving the news: Most Americans don't fall in the political extremes that both parties concentrate on, Baker reminded some of the country's future leaders at a Harvard lecture Thursday.

What they're saying: "Rather than dragging more and more voters to the extremes, this behavior from the major parties is having the opposite effect. Many are becoming independents," Baker said.

  • Baker cited polls showing the number of independent voters has climbed in the last several decades.
  • "That's a lot of movement. Tens of millions of voters," Baker said, adding that unenrolled voters in Massachusetts may make up more than 60% of the 2022 electorate.
  • Baker has been at odds with his own party for several years. At the time of his speech, he was still registered in his hometown of Swampscott as a Republican.

Baker themed his thoughts on the media around comments musician David Bowie made to the BBC in 1999 about how the internet would radically change media consumption and become "an alien life form" of its own.

  • Baker said the internet's ability to link like-minded people has led to even more extremism.
  • "Finding people who share your love of gardening is just as easy as finding people who share your love of hate speech," Baker said.
  • Media outlets catering to slim ideological audiences are amplified by social media algorithms that only deliver the kind of news people already want to hear, he added.

This causes legitimate news organizations to become "edgier" to try to compete with ideological outlets, Baker said.

  • "Outrage and misinformation travels further and faster among partisans and advocates on social media than anything that looks like straight news," Baker said.

The speech was organized by three of the Kennedy School's most prominent divisions: the Taubman Center for State and Local Government, the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston and the Institute of Politics.

You can watch the Kennedy School's webcast here.

2. 🗳 Early voting by the numbers

Drop ballots into the one in the middle. Not the one on the right and certainly not the one on the left. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

Election Day isn't until tomorrow, but Massachusetts has already achieved turnout of more than 19% thanks to the popularity of early voting and voting by mail.

  • Secretary of State William Galvin's office reported that 745,595 of 1,128,465 ballots had been returned to city and town clerks as of Friday afternoon, showing a return rate of 66.1%.
  • The 14-day early voting period from Oct. 22 to Nov. 4 saw 181,576 voters appear in person to cast ballots.

What they're saying: Galvin's office says you can still early-vote today until noon if you have a qualifying excuse.

  • "Voters who find that they will be out of town on Election Day may arrange with their local election official to vote in their local election office until noon on the day before an election," Galvin's office wrote in a statement last week.

3. 🔙 Back that Mass. Up: News from around the commonwealth

Illustration of an MBTA-style subway map that reads BACK THAT MASS UP where the station names should be.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Boston broke the daily high temperature record yesterday with a high of 75°. (Globe)

There's a new 7-foot statue of Abigail Adams on display in Quincy center. (WHDH)

Sunday was officially Janet Wu Day in Boston in honor of the legendary Channel 5 journalist's upcoming retirement. (WCVB)

4. 😬 The most rat-infested city

Data: U.S. Census Bureau, 2021 American Housing Survey; Chart: Jacque Schrag and Alice Feng/Axios

We did it, Boston. We have the most rodent sightings in the entire country.

Rodentia are among the species that look for lodging in the fall to survive winter, which means it's rat season.

Driving the news: Boston is the rattiest city in the nation, according to 2021 American Housing Survey data that ranked metro regions by the number of rodent sightings inside homes.

  • With 21.6% of respondents reporting rodent sightings, Boston beats Philadelphia's 19.5% and New York City's measly 15.3%.

Why it matters: A perennial pest in port cities, rats can ruin food, start electrical fires and carry disease.

  • The most common in Mass. is the brown, or Norway rat.
  • They nest under floors, in walls or under piles of garbage, while roof rats dwell in trees and the upper stories of buildings.

The state's official list of mammals claims that the common house mouse infests everywhere in Mass. except for Martha's Vineyard "where it allegedly once occurred."

💭 Deehan's thought bubble: You get used to them. But if you really can't stand the filthy little critters and don't mind taking lethal measures, I recommend an electric trap so you can send those suckers to Sing Sing.

Is a new job in your future?

💼 Check out who’s hiring around the city.

  1. Assistant Account Executive at Beantown Media Ventures.
  2. Executive Assistant at Northeastern University.
  3. Technical Director Novel Cell Therapy Lab at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. 🎄 1 Christmas tree to go

A worker strings lights across the tree on display outside Macy's in Downtown Crossing. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

It's the most wonderful time of the year: Time to complain and bellyache about Christmas decorations going up too early.

Driving the news: Macy's has had its Christmas tree on display above the store entrance for a few weeks now, but only got around to trimming it with lights last week.

What to watch: The tree will reportedly be lit Nov. 23.

Deehan will probably go see "Aliens" tonight. Game over, man.

Steph is out.