Even without including results from the state’s largest cities, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was confident enough to declare victory early Wednesday morning in his re-election against Republican challenger Tom Foley.
Malloy took the stage at the Society Room around 12:30 a.m. to address supporters. Malloy’s campaign said he was winning with 412,801 votes to Foley’s 401,394 votes without the totals from cities like West Haven, New Haven, and Hartford.
Malloy’s campaign claimed their victories also were larger in some of the suburbs Foley won in 2010. They said Malloy won traditionally Republican towns like Branford and Guilford by 1,000 votes. They also won Danbury by 600, a city they lost by 1,200 votes in 2010.
The head of the Democratic Party in New Haven said Malloy won that city this year by 19,000 votes. In 2010, New Haven gave him 18,606 votes, which help him beat Foley by 6,404 votes that year.
“We thought about making it easy and that just didn’t make any sense,” Malloy quipped in his acceptance speech. “So we tried to build some suspense.”
Malloy told the crowd of supporters that “We don’t have the final numbers, but we know what the big numbers are . . . we are going to win this thing.”
Foley told the crowd at the Greenwich Hyatt at 12:45 a.m. that he was not quite ready to concede.
“Something a little unusual has just happened. Dan Malloy has just announced that he thinks he’s won the race,” Foley said. “The way this is supposed to work is when you have firm numbers and you know you’ve lost the race, you’re supposed to call the winner and congratulate them. He didn’t give me a chance. We actually are not sure we’ve lost the race.”
Foley’s comments initially drew laughter from a crowd that had spent the last hour watching the numbers appear to trend for their candidate.
“Don’t get so excited because we probably have lost this race, but I’m not going to confirm we’ve lost it until we’re sure we’ve lost it. When we’ve done that, we’ll call Governor Malloy and let him know,” he said.
Foley then gave the crowd “the speech I would have given had I conceded.”
The race, which was historically close in 2010, drew national attention again this year.
Based on television ads the race was the most negative in the country, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. It was also one of the tightest races in the country, according to public opinion polls.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama came to the state to stump for Malloy and former President Bill Clinton made two appearances on Malloy’s behalf. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made five visits on Foley’s behalf.
On Tuesday afternoon, Obama was made aware of the problems at the polls in Hartford and called in to WNPR’s Colin McEnroe Show to urge people to get back out to vote if they were turned away Tuesday morning.
A judge agreed to allow Hartford to keep two of its 24 polling places open an additional 30 minutes because witnesses testified that voters were told they wouldn’t be able to vote until the checklist arrived.
In 2010, the city of Bridgeport faced an entirely different problem. The city had printed only 21,000 ballots for about 69,000 registered voters. By 5 p.m. nearly all of the precincts were running out and they resorted to using photocopied ballots, which had to be hand counted. Further, a judge allowed the city to extend its voting hours until 10 p.m.
But in 2014, Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said Republican candidates have had a difficult time overcoming the Democratic advantage in the state’s cities.
“It’s very tough to beat the city vote. It’s the city vote that tends to put this governor . . . over the hump. So what does that say? I think it says that we as Republicans, I think you’re going to see . . . a new strategy, an urban strategy,” Fasano said. “I think we’ve got a good message, it’s just that we don’t get it to the cities.”
Foley’s second loss to Malloy came as a surprise to his supporters.
Sen. John McKinney, who lost to Foley in the Republican primary this year, said he sensed momentum shifting for Foley in the last week.
“I’ve spent more time with Tom Foley since August 12 than I had before. We’ve gotten to know each other real well. He’s a good man,” McKinney said. People in Connecticut are “going to see a different person than the person who’s been demonized with all these commercials.”
Many people seemed unhappy with either choice, something McKinney attributed to the high number of negative advertisements.
“If you gave me $10 million, I could make Mother Teresa look like a bad candidate,” he said.
McKinney said Republicans were stronger on two fronts this year than in 2010.
“One, we were unified as a party and four years ago we weren’t there yet. We’ve also done a much better job, within the confines of what you’re allowed to do, of coordinating, working together, understanding that you don’t want to overlap the work,” he said.
Did turnout made a difference?
Turnout in mid-term elections is usually lower than in presidential years and voter demographics tend to favor Republican candidates. However, Democrats said that despite the late open to the polls in Hartford they were hoping for a large turnout.
In 2010, the turnout in the cities was what gave Malloy his small 6,404 vote victory over Foley.
A spokesman for the Secretary of the State said turnout was still expected to end up around 55 to 60 percent. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill predicted 55 percent on Monday.
An estimated 1.96 million registered voters were eligible to cast their ballots, but the increase in voter participation could be attributed to same day voter registration.
Unaffiliated voters make up the largest bloc in Connecticut with 818,389 registered. Meanwhile, the state has 712,985 registered Democrats and 407,520 registered Republicans.