Election Day is Tuesday, and so finally we’ll get to put this long cycle of unfocused anger and bitter disappointment behind us, and move on into whatever is next.
So what’s going to happen in Connecticut? The Republican wave will be felt here, but not nearly as strongly as in most other parts of the country. Here’s my predictions for Tuesday and beyond—offer your own in the comments section!
Change Comes to Hartford
Polls suggest the gubernatorial race is incredibly close, and it could be that a stiff breeze could blow it one way or the other. It’s amazing that a race no one seems to be paying much attention to is so close—and maybe that’s part of the reason why. I think the last governor’s race anyone actually followed happened in 1994! That said, I think Dan Malloy will eke out a very narrow win simply by outworking his opponent.
Democrats should sweep the constitutional offices, and Republicans will make some significant gains in the General Assembly, though not nearly enough to actually capture control of either chamber.
Facing the new governor and legislature will be a host of problems their previous incarnations seemed mostly unable to deal with. We have high unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, a large budget gap, a demoralized and demonized public workforce, rampant poverty in the cities, a failing educational system, and more. Hopefully a change at the top will help spur some real action on these complex and persistent problems, beginning with the budget. We’ll likely see a mix of tax increases, program cuts and labor concessions in the final budget, no matter who wins the top office. As for the rest, a lot depends on how ambitious and motivated the legislature’s leadership is feeling. But no matter who wins, change is coming in Hartford. After the past four years, we desperately need it.
The Washington Delegation
The U.S. Senate race has grabbed the headlines this cycle, but Linda McMahon has not managed to actually catch, much less overtake, Richard Blumenthal in any poll. The last six weeks of the campaign have seen Richard Blumenthal come to something approximating life, while McMahon has been unable to close the gap. Women never warmed to her, and that may be the final word on McMahon. Blumenthal should defeat McMahon by a close-but-comfortable 4-8 percent margin.
As for the rest of the delegation, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro will win handily, and U.S. Reps. John Larson and Joe Courtney should win by somewhat closer margins. Larson is still in a very interesting position when it comes to leadership positions among the Democrats—if Nancy Pelosi decides to step aside following this election, he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Less clear are the fifth and fourth district races—and there is simply not enough data to make a concrete judgment about either. President Barack Obama’s visit to the crucial city of Bridgeport on Saturday may help pump up turnout, but historically voters there have come out in far fewer numbers during midterm election years than when the presidency is on the line. Obama may not be able to help Himes win this time.
As for the fickle fifth district, Chris Murphy is in a tough race, and this may prove to be the surprise of the night. If Sam Caligiuri wins, though, it will be a huge shock, and point to wider Republican gains all over the country.
What awaits the winners when they get to Washington? All signs point to Republicans riding a wave of national discontent to a victory they in no way deserve, given that they seem to have learned nothing from their previous mismanagement of the country’s affairs.
The major problem is that even though Republicans have run on anger surrounding spending and the deficit, history suggests that they’ll have little success in actually reducing it. No one from either party wants to touch the two biggest slices of the federal pie, Social Security/Medicare and military spending, and no one is willing to raise taxes to pay for them. Worse, Republicans seem to have no real plans for how to deal with other crises in education, health care, infrastructure and more. I’m guessing the new Congress will make a few symbolic cuts and then fail to accomplish anything else beyond lobbing bombs at one another and the president.
But perhaps their leadership will be wise enough to take a deep breath, and use their return to power as an opportunity to work with the president to tackle some of the major unresolved issues of our time. Maybe the boldest prediction I can make is that while ideology will trump reality on Election Day, reality will make a strong comeback next year when the work of governing needs to be done. Why not? Despite everything, I still have some hope left.
What do you think will happen on Election Day, and beyond?
Susan Bigelow is the former owner/author of CTLocalPolitics.com. She lives in Enfield with her wife and cats.