THE RESULTS of last week's state and local elections show mixed and in some ways contradictory tendencies on the part of Massachusetts voters. While the voters--especially in Cambridge--supported individual candidates who have proven themselves as leaders on issues of social and economic importance, all but two of the binding questions on the Massachusetts ballot lost, and most lost badly.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy '54 decisively turned back a challenge from his Republican opponent, Michael S. Robertson '57, who originally tried to run as a candidate of small businessmen, and later as an opponent of busing to achieve school integration. Kennedy's landslide victory nearly equalled that of his first election to a full term in 1964, and he should take that as a mandate to work for the health care and tax reform programs for which he has tirelessly worked in the past and which may finally see enactment under a Democratic Administration and Congress.
Representative Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. also overwhelmingly defeated William A. Barnstead, a candidate who tried unsuccessfully to capitalize on anti-busing sentiment around Boston. Barnstead's tactics and rhetoric were far more strident and divisive than Robertson's, however, and it is encouraging to see that the voters rejected Barnstead's candidacy as well. O'Neill, soon to be elected Speaker of the House, did not emerge from the campaign altogether unscathed. Because of his position of national leadership, O'Neill's record, especially his foreign travel at government expense, has come under increased scrutiny. O'Neill has withstood that examination, and if his generally good record on progressive legislation is any indication, should serve well as Speaker.
In the only close race for a Massachusetts Congressional seat, Democratic Representative Robert F. Drinan of Newton defeated a Republican who had challenged Drinan's record on economic issues. Drinan's victory is encouraging, for it shows taht a politician like Drinan who displayed courage on moral issues such as Vietnam and the impeachment of former President Nixon, can still win re-election once the heated controversy of those issues has passed.
Within Cambridge, the victory of City Councilor Saundra Graham over incumbent John J. Toomey for the fourth Middlesex district's seat in the state legislature is very encouraging. Graham has been a dedicated member of the city council, and a vocal advocate of rent control and the rights of the city's minority groups. In the state house, Graham should continue those efforts and serve Cambridge as a much more distinguished representative than her predecessor.