Singer, who worked as a top communications staffer for John Kerry in 2004 and Hillary Clinton in 2008, said voters concerned with animal welfare seemed poised to emerge as a “new voting bloc” as the candidates have keyed in on dogs as a way of questioning the other’s character. He said that Romney’s silence on the two hotly contested votes to ban dog racing in the state could play into that dynamic, calling the dog fight “the kind of story that breaks through with people who don’t always follow minute-to-minute developments but are casually interested and vote.”

Those votes in 2000 and 2008, came just before and after Romney’s term as governor from 2003 to 2007, and voters were concerned with animal rights on the one side, and jobs on the other. During his time in office, the dog-racing ban was less in the mix since the sport had survived the 2000 referendum on a tight 51-49 vote, and he never raised the issue. The debate shifted to whether Massachusetts should allow slot-machine gambling at its dog- and horse- racing tracks, which Romney opposed as a subsidy to a failing industry. His presidential campaign did not immediately return a request for comment on his greyhound racing stance as governor.