Connecticut primary voters didn’t let this morning’s cold rain keep them away from the polls.
Outside the Hartford Seminary, Geri Sullivan walked slowly beneath a large, dripping umbrella and talked about how tough she found the choice between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
“My heart was with Sanders, but my head was with Hillary,” she said. “I’ve been really torn.”
Sullivan eventually landed in the Clinton column because, she said, in the last couple of weeks Sanders “got too negative and personal, writing the Republican ads in November, so I switched to Hillary. I thought he was above that.”
Pre-election polls show a tight race on the Democratic side in Connecticut, where both Sanders and Clinton have stumped in recent days, while businessman Donald Trump headed into Tuesday with a lopsided lead over competitors John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Taking his grandmother to the polls, Jason Plzacki, who isn’t registered, said outside Bristow Middle School in West Hartford that he doesn’t like any of the candidates running for president.
“If I had to vote, I’d vote Trump. He isn’t like anyone else,” Plzacki said.
Chris Haynes, assistant professor of political science at the University of New Haven, said early Tuesday that turnout will matter on the Democratic side where Sanders seems to be gaining in the polls.
“Who gets their voters to the polls on a rainy day in Connecticut?” Haynes said. “Right now, those are Bernie voters.”
However, in the end it may not matter all that much. There are 71 Democratic delegates, with 55 up for grabs. Those 55 are distributed proportionally, so Sanders and Clinton will both get some. Connecticut’s political establishment — including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state’s entire congressional delegation — lined up behind Clinton.
Haynes said Sanders seems to be coming to grips with the fact that he’s not going to have enough delegate support going into the convention.
On the Republican side, Haynes said the Republican National Committee seems to be moving toward a reconciliation with Trump. The New York real estate mogul is polling better than 50 percent and is likely to get all 25 Republican delegates up for grabs.
Trump made three stops in Connecticut over the past two weeks, and Kasich, who does well among the state’s GOP establishment, visited twice.
Carol Canino, who voted early in Hartford, said she’s seen a lot good and bad during the campaign. Some candidates are fascists, she said, while she leans toward the socialist.
She said she’s for Sanders even though he’s probably out of it. “The movement he’s creating is more important than him becoming president.”
Julienne Cutaia, a Hartford voter, said the process at the polls was “actually a relief” after all the horror stories she’s heard from New York and other states.
Cutaia is a big Sanders backer. She said she’s on board with his ideals, though not necessarily with every piece of his platform.
She said she’s especially happy that Sanders is pushing the idea of “real equal opportunities” for everybody and the notion that everyone should pay a fair share of the cost of government.
Cutaia said she won’t be too disappointed if Clinton wins the presidency, though.
“Hillary is all right,” she said.
There are 757,825 registered Democrats and 431,774 registered Republican voters in Connecticut, who were able to cast their ballot Tuesday. Connecticut’s more than 780,000 unaffiliated voters are not allowed to participate in party primaries.
In 2008, the last time both parties held presidential primaries, turnout was 51.1 percent on the Democratic side and 36.7 percent on the Republican side.
It’s not clear whether voter turnout is matching the 2008 pace. In Bristol, which typically votes at about the rate of state voters as a whole, turnout was just shy of 20 percent at noon.
The polls close at 8 p.m. Anyone who is a registered Republican or Democrat is eligible to vote.
Christine Stuart contributed to this report.