Primaries 2016: Connecticut to Clinton, UConn to Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign stop, Sunday, April 24, 2016, at the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

After almost two years of campaigning, a picture of the general presidential election is finally coming into focus. 

Donald Trump swept the five Republican primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Out of those same five states, Clinton lost only Rhode Island. 

Clinton won Connecticut by a slim 52 percent to 47 percent margin over Sanders. Donald Trump won Connecticut 58 percent to Kasich's 28.5 percent and Cruz's 12 percent.

The Public Policy Poll that found Bernie Sanders had come within two points of Clinton’s lead in Connecticut was more accurate than earlier state polls, and the polls that predicted ringing Trump victories in every state were dead on. According to FiveThirtyEight, Clinton gained 50 delegates on Saturday, giving her a pledged delegate lead over Sanders of 1,622 to 1,282. Trump leads the Republican pack with 950 delegates to Cruz’s 560 after the frontrunner grabbed 110 out of 118 delegates Tuesday. 

Students and Mansfield residents cast their votes at the Mansfield Community Center for the Connecticut primaries on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. (Amar Batra/Daily Campus)

Chaos at UConn

Sanders beat Clinton handily in Mansfield, 67 percent to 32.5 percent, feasting off of a sizable University of Connecticut voting bloc and the surrounding rural area.

Trump won Mansfield narrowly, 44 percent to Kasich’s 38 percent and Cruz’s 14 percent. 

Voting for the presidential primaries took place across Connecticut today, and at UConn, the Bernie Sanders voting machine was in full force, while UConnPIRG mistakenly spread misinformation. 

A flyer circulated on social media saying that Students for Bernie Sanders volunteers would drive people to the polls. Meeting places included the Hillel parking lot, the road between the Math and Science Building and North Garage, the circle behind Connecticut Commons and the circle at the intersection of Mansfield Way and Fairfield Way. 

A poster – printed at the Student Organization Center by members of UConnPIRG and widely distributed – urged UConn students to vote today and said same-day-registration was available at the Mansfield Community Center – UConn’s polling place – as long as students brought proof of their housing fee and personal identification. These are untrue claims.

Saman Azimi, a sixth-semester finance major and the treasurer of UConnPIRG, expressed remorse for the mishap. 

“I’m shocked and extremely disappointed that this kind of misinformation would be disseminated to the student body from my organization,” Azimi wrote in an email. “We're taking this very seriously, so, in the meantime, I've notified all UConnPIRG members to take down the posters if they see them around campus. I want to maintain that this is egregious and inexcusable and goes against everything UConnPIRG stands for, and I want to sincerely apologize to the student body of UConn on behalf of my organization.”

Azimi went on to say that a UConnPIRG volunteer apparently misunderstood information discussed during a meeting with the Mansfield town registrar. The registrar said people who had started but not completed their registration could come to the polls the same day to finish it. These students would have received a notification of the possibility of this process through the mail.

“We think that one of our volunteers misinterpreted that information and thought that there was same-day voter registration for folks who hadn't attempted to register as well,” Azimi added, “…our campaign hasn't been advocating for same-day voter registration. Rather, we put all of our efforts into making sure we registered 500 students to vote in the primaries because we knew there wasn't same-day registration in the primaries.”

Student voting

UConn students defended their respective choices for president and their different voting experiences on Tuesday.

A large amount had to head home to vote, while others were registered in Mansfield. Since the Connecticut primary is closed, people had to register as either a Democrat or Republican before election day in order to vote. Voting was open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day. 

Bennett Cognato, an eighth-semester political science major and the president of Students for Bernie Sanders at UConn, voted at the Mansfield Community Center. 

“Voting took me less than 5 minutes total, so I was glad to get that done first thing this morning,” Cognato said. “For me, the choice has been clear for months. I voted for Bernie Sanders because I believe healthcare and education should be a right in one of the richest countries in the world, that it’s time to stop letting special interests and super PACs buy elections, and that Americans working 40 or 50 hours a week should not be making poverty wages.”

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders smiles to supporters as he takes the stage at a rally along the Connecticut River in Hartford on Monday, April 25, 2016. (Kyle Constable/Daily Campus)

Students for Bernie Sanders registered over 600 students to vote leading up to the election. 

Ayla Hundley, an eighth-semester political science major who has volunteered for the student group UConn for Hillary, said she registered in Mansfield during the 2014 election cycle because she realized she was more politically involved in Mansfield than in her hometown of Trumbull. 

“This was my second time voting in Mansfield; both times the process was unexpectedly easy and the poll workers were extremely friendly,” Hundley said. “There was a table specifically for UConn students. The poll worker asked if I still lived in university housing and to show a form of identification. I voted for Hillary [Clinton] because I believe she is not only the most qualified Democratic candidate and my ideology aligns closely with hers, but she is also the candidate who has the greatest likelihood of beating a Republican in November. It's about time a woman is president, and Hillary is certainly up to the job.”

Sixth-semester mechanical engineering major Zachary Quamme cast his vote for Ted Cruz. 

“I also like Kasich and he’d be my second choice now. I am a ‘Never Trump’ guy,” Quamme said. “I went at about two today in my hometown of Windham, and it wasn’t very packed since it was the middle of the working day, so I was able to get my ballot with no issue and without hesitation filled in the [Ted] Cruz bubble and submitted it.”

Every candidate, excepting Cruz, had come to Connecticut before primary day to share their message with prospective voters. Sanders had the largest rally at 14,000, Trump came in second with 5,500. Clinton held the most events in the state, from fundraisers to forums to rallies. 


Sten Spinella is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at sten.spinella@uconn.edu.