Democratic, Republican presidential nominations at stake in CT primary

Attendees look on during a Bernie Sanders rally in New Haven, Connecticut on Sunday, April 25, 2016. (Kyle Constable/The Daily Campus)

It’s Primary Day in Connecticut.

And in an unusual twist, Connecticut’s vote might actually make a difference in the nomination fights underway in both major parties.

Thousands of voters are expected to turn out to cast their ballots in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries in the Nutmeg State. Some pundits are predicting record turnout on both sides.

The frontrunners – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and businessman Donald Trump on the Republican side – are hoping to inch closer to clinching their respective parties’ nominations with a sweep of all five Northeastern states set to vote on Tuesday.

But voters should not count out the underdogs.

A late surge in the polls by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Connecticut and Delaware threatens to steal some of Clinton’s thunder in the Democratic race. On the Republican side, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich each hope to win a sizable number of delegates to keep Trump from reaching the magic number of 1,237 – allowing him to clinch the nomination before the Republican National Convention in July.

In the Connecticut primaries, the Democratic candidates have 55 delegates on the line while Republicans will compete for 28 delegates. The five states set to vote on Tuesday have a total of 384 delegates up for grabs on the Democratic side and 172 delegates in the Republican race.

Pennsylvania has the most delegates available of any state in both races while Connecticut has the third-most.

With Connecticut in the national electoral spotlight for the first time in decades, here’s what you need to know.

Which candidates have been to the state?

Four of the five presidential candidates have made visits to Connecticut in the past three weeks, peaking in the last five days with a whirlwind tour of the state after the New York primary on April 19.

Kasich was the first candidate to visit Connecticut, holding a rally at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield on April 8. He returned to hold a second rally in Glastonbury on Friday. Trump held a trio of rallies, the first on April 15 in Hartford and the second two on Saturday in Waterbury and Bridgeport.

Attendees hold signs at a Donald Trump rally in Waterbury, Connecticut on Saturday, April 23, 2016. (Kyle Constable/The Daily Campus)

Cruz has not made any appearances in the state. His campaign headquarters did not open until Saturday.

Clinton first visited the state on Thursday, holding a forum on gun violence in Hartford. She then held a rally at the University of Bridgeport on Sunday. Clinton also hosted several smaller events and fundraisers on Saturday and Sunday as well.

Sanders waited the longest of the four candidates to make his first appearance, but did so in style when he drew 14,000 people in New Haven Sunday night. This topped Trump’s 5,500 people in Hartford as the biggest rally in the state in this election cycle. He held a second rally Monday morning in Hartford.

What regions are worth watching?

Polling has shown a tightening race on the Democratic side while Trump appears poised to win in the Republican contest.

Not all delegates are automatically given to the statewide winner, however. On the Republican side, 15 of the delegates will be awarded by congressional district winner. Kasich has made a strong push in the Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District in the southwestern part of the state.

State Sen. Tony Hwang, Kasich’s state campaign chairman, said he also expects Kasich to be competitive in the 2nd District and 5th District. However, former U.S. Congressman Chris Shays, who represented the 4th District for 22 years as a Republican, expressed skepticism Friday about whether Kasich could even win the 4th District, let alone any other districts.

The Democratic race could also prove interesting. Sanders hopes to win rural portions of Connecticut that are demographically similar to regions he won in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts in earlier primaries. The 2nd District and 5th District could be prime territory for Sanders while the 4th District could see the most lopsided numbers in favor of Clinton.

If early numbers show a narrower margin in Fairfield County towns, Sanders could be in for an upset win over Clinton.

Connecticut played a role in Clinton’s unraveling in 2008, when then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama upset Clinton on Super Tuesday. The Nutmeg State received significantly less attention in the election, however, because it was one of 24 states voting on that date.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Monday showed Clinton leading by 2 percent – within the margin of error. Clinton had 48 percent support to Sanders’ 46 percent.

In the Republican race, the PPP survey showed Trump with 59 percent support while Kasich garnered 25 percent. Cruz trailed with 13 percent.

Where can I vote?

Connecticut has a closed-primary system, meaning all voters must be registered with a political party in order cast a ballot in the election.

If you’re registered as a Democrat or Republican, you are eligible to cast a ballot.

Most students at the University of Connecticut are registered to vote in their hometowns instead of Mansfield. That means you have to make the trek back to your hometown in order to cast a vote. However, if you requested an absentee ballot, you had the option of mailing in your ballot in advance.

For students who changed their place of residence to Mansfield as a result of being a student, you are registered to vote at the Mansfield Community Center precinct just south of Storrs Center.

All polling places in the state will open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. If you are in line by 8 p.m., you will still be allowed to vote even if you are waiting in a line.


Kyle Constable is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kyle.constable@uconn.edu. He tweets @KyleConstable.