Here are some takeaways from Connecticut’s midterm election
Most of the votes from Tuesday’s election have been counted, and experts and analysts are getting a better sense of what happened and why and what it means for Connecticut. Here are some takeaways:
Did voters link Bob Stefanowski with Leora Levy?
Tuesday’s election was a rematch between Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski. They faced each other in 2018, when Stefanowski lost by 3 percentage points.
This week, Stefanowski lost by 12 points.
Also on the ballot statewide this year: Republican Leora Levy, who was backed by former President Donald Trump.
Stefanowski and Levy had differing viewpoints on a range of issues, but they lost Tuesday’s election by similar margins against their Democratic opponents. Levy lost by 14 points to Democratic U.S Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Stefanowski tried to be a different candidate from Levy, taking moderate positions on abortion rights and gun control, said CT Insider’s Julia Bergman.
“Based on voter’s reactions, it looks like a lot of voters viewed him and Leora Levy as the same candidate, or maybe they just saw the ‘R’ next to their names and voted against that,” Bergman told Connecticut Public Radio’s “Where We Live.”
Political experts say Trump’s endorsement of Levy may have deterred some voters from choosing her.
Democrats shouldn’t get too comfortable.
Democrats won statewide offices and retained large majorities in the General Assembly. But one political analyst says some of those state legislative races were close, and Democrats may not have the lead they think they do.
Wesleyan University’s Steven Moore said state Democratic candidates pulled ahead despite inflation and President Joe Biden’s low approval rating. He said that’s because voters felt democracy was at stake and had a sense of urgency as they cast their ballots.
“I think you saw a lot of people who were kind of not particularly enthusiastic about the current performance of the Democrats but were enthusiastic about protecting democracy from parts of the Republican Party that very much embraced this election denialism, all that rhetoric essentially,” he said.
This was top of Carol Walter’s mind on Election Day.
“This is probably the most important election of our lives,” said Walter, 74, of East Hartford. “If the Republicans win in a lot of states, especially for state offices, easily Trump could be our next president. It’s frightening. Very frightening.”
Voters approve early in-person voting
Connecticut voters approved a ballot measure that allows the state to pursue early in-person voting. But the matter faces a court challenge from a New Britain resident who says the constitutional amendment is unlawful.
Early voting is good for democracy, said Diana Evans, a board member at Common Cause Connecticut.
“Let’s remember that 46 other states already have early voting,” she said. “It has withstood any constitutional challenges, and we believe it will withstand this challenge. We don’t think this challenge has any merit.”
Now that the ballot measure has been approved, the General Assembly can consider legislation that would create an in-person early voting system. Connecticut is one of just four states in the U.S. that does not allow early in-person voting.
Mario Dobles, 69, of Norwalk, supported early voting. He emigrated from Costa Rica, which holds elections on Sundays.
He noted that people in other countries have dedicated time for voting.
“And so you know, early voting makes it more easy and more convenient for people to do what they’re supposed to be doing in the first place,” Dobles said. “Too many people don’t vote and that’s not good for us. And we complain about it.”
Connecticut Public's Camila Vallejo and Eric Aasen contributed to this report.