WINDSOR, CT — Connecticut supporters of both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are heading north to New Hampshire to support their candidates.
New Hampshire has three fewer electoral college votes than Connecticut, but it’s thought to be a swing state because of the independent nature of its voters.
In August, Trump told supporters at a rally in Fairfield that his campaign was “making a big move for the state of Connecticut.”
And while Trump’s campaign organization believes he will do very well in parts of Connecticut, like the Second Congressional District and the Naugatuck Valley, the reality is that Connecticut hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush.
Ben Proto, Trump’s Connecticut campaign organizer, said they’ve been sending supporters to New Hampshire to knock on doors for the past two months. He said Democrats are about two months too late in sending their supporters.
About 50 Connecticut Democrats boarded a school bus Sunday in Windsor and headed to Lebanon, New Hampshire. It’s the third week they’ve organized trips to the Granite State where three recent polls show the race tightening. Two of the polls had Trump up over Clinton by 1 point and 5 points, respectively.
“It’s a very close race and people want to go there,” Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. “We have a lot of assets in the field in Connecticut to make sure our vote turns out across the state.”
Asked why he was boarding the bus Sunday, Al Dounouk, of Enfield, said simply “history.” He said one vote could make the difference in this election and there are a lot of states like New Hampshire where the race has tightened.
Todd Steigman, of Hamden, said he’s hoping Connecticut is pretty safely voting for Clinton and he wants to do whatever he can to make sure she’s the next president.
“The alternative is sitting at home and stressing out about what’s going to happen,” Steigman said.
The sentiment was echoed by others who were boarding the bus. Some said knocking on doors in November beats watching television news about the race.
Malloy said Clinton’s internal poll numbers as of Friday had them winning New Hampshire, but “I think there are a certain percentage of people in New Hampshire, probably about 5 to 6 percent of people up there, who purposefully keep their decision until the last minute.”
He said he believes the Clinton campaign has the votes to win New Hampshire, but it’s a question of whether they get them to the polls. The area the Connecticut residents were headed went heavily in favor of Bernie Sanders. He stressed the need for the door knockers to explain why it’s important to vote on Nov. 8 for Clinton.
Malloy would have joined them for the trip, but he was walking in the Veterans Day parade in Hartford.
The governor has previously campaigned for Clinton in New Hampshire. He said he’s visited New Hampshire to campaign at least once every four years since 1976.
“If it’s your first time, it’s fun to do. You’re part of history,” Malloy said.
Malloy said New Hampshire made the wrong decision in 2000 and he believes if Al Gore had won the state there would have never been an Iraq War.
But Connecticut Democrats and Republicans are not only focused on New Hampshire. They have both been making phone calls to other swing states like Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.
The Trump campaign operation in Connecticut has been making between 3,000 and 5,000 phone calls a day to other battleground states.
West Hartford’s Joe Visconti, who is working for the Trump campaign, led a group of eight Connecticut residents to Virginia this weekend to knock on doors in that battleground state.
Visconti interviewed Trump supporters in Glen Allen, Virginia and posted the footage on his Twitter feed.
He said the Trump campaign had enough volunteers headed to New Hampshire and Virginia is a place where people have been quiet about their support for Trump.
A Roanoke College poll released Friday had Clinton with a seven-point lead over Trump in Virginia with a 45 to 38 percent split. The poll found 9 percent of voters are still undecided.
“Clinton’s lead is narrowing,” Harry Wilson, director of the Roanoke College Institute for Policy and Opinion Research, said. “If Donald Trump can rally the reluctant Republicans who still do not support him, then the race could be very close.”
Visconti said the support for Trump is everywhere.
“I think the polls are wrong,” he said before heading to a Trump rally in Leesburg, Virginia.
“Few people thought this race would tighten to this degree, but this campaign has had more twists and turns than switchbacks on a steep mountain road,” Wilson said.