Finally, after a long and joyless campaign, it’s almost time to go vote in Connecticut’s 2014 election! Here’s a handy guide for what to watch on election night to see which way the wind is blowing, with some bonus predictions.
The Governor’s race: Let’s start with the big one, the deadlocked governor’s race. For clues about how the map of the 2014 race will turn out, we need look no farther than the map of the 2010 race.
The reason that map isn’t going to change a lot is that the electorate itself is going to be very similar. Because Democrats have basically zero enthusiasm for this race and Republicans are desperate to get rid of Malloy, the voters will trend older, whiter, and more conservative than in 2012. This is normal for a non-presidential year, but Democratic malaise, many liberal activists’ ongoing dislike for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and the lack of a U.S. Senate race at the top of the ballot will ensure that this electorate strongly resembles that of 2010’s Republican wave election.
If there are going to be radical changes to 2010’s voting patterns they should be easy to spot. For example, the eastern part of the state outside of its cities largely broke for Foley in 2010, but his memorable exchange with workers and Democrats outside a closing factory in Sprague may hurt his chances there this time around. If Malloy can hold onto towns like Groton, East Lyme, and Stonington while picking up towns like Waterford, Plainfield, Montville, and Putnam, he’s likely headed for a good night. If Foley can win all of them, though, he will likely be the next governor.
The other places to watch will be the state’s large cities. Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport all went for Malloy by huge margins in 2010, and a lot of analysis point to this surge in turnout as the reason Malloy won. In all three cities, Malloy won by more than 13,000 votes in both Bridgeport and Hartford, and by more than 18,000 votes in New Haven. Realistically, Malloy needs to get similar margins from the cities this time around if he wants to hold on to his office. If turnout among Democrats sags there, Malloy is not going to win. Malloy himself said as much during his introduction for Michelle Obama in New Haven on Thursday.
Foley’s biggest margins came from the interior western part of the state, where Republicans always do well. He has to run up the score in towns like Thomaston, Plymouth, Brookfield, and Hartland, and he likely will. But one town that he won by 2,200 votes in 2010 may not be quite as enthusiastic about him this time: Newtown.
My own thought is that I believe Connecticut will stick to tradition and go with the devil we know. Dan Malloy will win by a nose, leaving Republicans to wonder what would have happened if they’d held their collective noses and nominated John McKinney, if Jonathan Pelto had managed to get on the ballot, or if Joe Visconti had stayed off of it.
Congress: There really shouldn’t be any surprises at all, here — Democrats have won every single seat since 2008, and likely will for the foreseeable future. The national Republican Party is such a toxic brand in Connecticut that it’s almost impossible for a Republican to win federal office here anymore. There isn’t even a serious contest in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd districts.
However, if there’s going to be an upset in the other two districts, watch for Republican wins in towns like Fairfield, Weston, Redding, and Trumbull in the 4th, and in places like Kent, Danbury, Farmington, and Rep. Esty’s hometown of Cheshire in the 5th. None of this is likely, of course. Connecticut’s once-competitive districts have turned into safe territory for Democrats remarkably quickly.
Other Races: It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we aren’t going to see much change in the legislature. Do we ever? Democrats will probably lose a couple of seats, but that’s it. Tom Foley isn’t nearly popular enough to have coattails if he does manage to win, and the same is true of Malloy.
The only race for constitutional officers that might be interesting is Tim Herbst vs. a listing Denise Nappier, but I doubt voters are paying enough attention to that to really take Herbst, who has won the endorsement of several major papers, seriously.
Of course, all of this could be wrong. That’s the beauty of it. We’ll find out on election night!
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.