It is a cold day in Boston.
The chill that rolled in yesterday -- and isn’t forecast to leave until after the Nor’easter that’s scheduled to hit on Wednesday night -- isn’t typical for an early November day in this New England town. But former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is coming back to his home state today for Election Night, is hoping that, collectively, voters across the U.S. give him a much warmer welcome.
Still, in the state of Massachusetts, with temperatures currently in the low 40s, there is a coldness toward Romney that President Obama most likely will not feel when he lands in Chicago later this afternoon. (In Massachusetts, a largely Democratic state, Obama holds a double-digit lead over the former governor; Illinois, also a blue state, isn’t on anyone’s list of states in play.)
“It is people like Mitt Romney who caused the Great Depression, not people like Barack Obama,” said Lex Stevens, the owner of Back Bay Hardware on Newbury Street, referring to Romney’s past at private-equity firm Bain Capital. “I am sure he wouldn’t want me at his country club.”
Yet despite his icy opinion, the small business owner, who has lived in Massachusetts for 27 years, voted for Romney for governor in 2003.
“I think he was the best option,” he said. “But from the first day he walked into the State House, he began planning for his presidential bid in the basement. That was always what he was eying.”
"From the first day [Romney] walked into the State House, he began planning for his presidential bid in the basement. That was always what he was eying."
- Lex Stevens, owner of Back Bay Hardware
Cathy Palmer, the owner of high-end pet store The Fish and Bone, said she is also voting for Obama.
“My business is so small that we’re not burdened by most regulations,” said Palmer, who owns two pet stores (the other one is in Portland, Me.) that each employs around seven people. “I am mostly voting on ideas and values. So while I know not everything has been as good as it was promised, I think Obama has helped our image in the world and it’s been good… for the most part.”
Palmer, who has been selling dog collars and leashes that have each candidate’s name on them, said she didn’t want to inject her personal politics into the business so she ordered the same amount of Romney gear as Obama gear. Yet, she said while there is only minimal Obama merchandise left, almost all the Romney merchandise is still in the shelves.
Helping business -- both large and small -- has been a focus of Romney’s campaign from the beginning, using his very successful time in the private sector as a persuading point to support his run for office.
“I know how to change a nation,” said Romney at one of his final campaign stops in Lynchburg, Va. yesterday. “[I know] how to get it back on course, how to create jobs, how to get a balanced budget, how to get rising take-home pay.”
So while nearly all of the big investment banks, most notably Goldman Sachs (who supported Obama is 2008) have shifted allegiances toward Romney, plenty of small business people like Stevens are voting for Obama despite the fact that many view him as a supporter of more costly regulations and higher taxes.
“Business is about numbers, and right now, I’m making about 75% of what I did my best year,” said Stevens. “So as long as there are profits, I'm fine dealing with regulations and paying my employees a little more.”
A cab driver, who didn’t want to be named but has lived in Boston his whole life, said he is voting for Romney and sees a lot of similar support for the former governor outside of the city.
“Out in the ‘burbs, there are Mitt Romney signs all over the place,” he said. “In Boston, not as much.”
That divide seems pervasive around the country -- so with or without the support of Massachusetts, Romney still has many believers. According to the latest Gallup Poll, Romney and Obama are within only one percentage point of each other.
And as for rest of the day, Mitt Romney does have business to take care of in Boston, just not as soon as originally planned.
Breaking with tradition, the former governor decided yesterday not to spend the final hours of the presidential race in his hometown. Instead, he is now scheduled to make last-minute stops in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, for some final campaigning before arriving to a chilly South Boston later tonight. There in the main ballroom of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, he will either give a victory speech -- or a concession speech.
Christina is on Twitter @ChristinaScotti