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DFER CT Playbook: Election 2020 Preview!

Who’s Voting in Connecticut?

Connecticut, solidly blue and low in electoral college heft, will not impact the outcome of next Tuesday’s presidential election like a “swing state”. That has not slowed enthusiasm, and could have significant consequences in many down ballot races.

Connecticut has recorded an all time high in registered voters. Last night, October 27th at 11:59 PM, was Connecticut’s voter registration deadline. The state has seen a surge in registrations, making history with 2,295,644 new voters, including over 624,000 new registrants since 2016. New enrollment includes 41% unaffiliated voters, 37% Democratic, and 21% Republican registrants, and less than 1% of other parties. This number still is subject to change as Connecticut allows for Election Day Registration, commonly expected in a Presidential year.

The newly added option of filing for an absentee ballot as a condition of COVID-19 has led 673,811 voters to request absentee ballots and nearly 500,000, or nearly 70%, of these ballots have been returned a week out from Election Day. When it comes to returning absentee ballots this year, Democrats have the advantage there as well. Roughly 28% of registered Democrats, 16% of unaffiliated voters and 14% of registered Republicans have returned their ballots as of yesterday. However, there are still nearly 80% of registered Connecticut voters who have yet to vote.

Based on the survey our affiliate ERNA CT conducted last week, despite significant evidence that voting by mail is secure, many voters still express concerns about both the integrity of voting absentee and by mail. Only about half of all voters — 49% — say they trust the mail-in or absentee approach as much as in-person voting, while 43% say they do not. As we saw in our polling, 61% believe Connecticut should join with 44 other states by passing an early voting law.

And Who Are They Voting For?

The state’s most consequential elections are likely at the legislative level, where races will decide the balance of power in the State House and State Senate. In the State Senate, Democrats are seeking to grow their 8 seat majority; while in the State House, Democrats are looking to grow their 31 seat majority.

In terms of trends, we will continue to keep an eye on Fairfield County and whether Democrats could maintain momentum from 2018 which includes protecting first term Senators Alex Kasser and Will Haskell, and possibly knock off State Senator Tony Hwang in his spirited rematch with Democrat Michelle McCabe. In the House, two numbers we’ll be keeping an eye on: 11 seats that flipped in 2018 and 12 seats that Trump carried in 2016. In both chambers, we anticipate Democrats to maintain sizable majorities, but the politics of these competitive races will speak to demographic trends that have been clear over the last four election cycles in and around Fairfield County.

In April, we released our preview of the elections; and much of the dynamics have remained the same with the exception that there were several other retirements including House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (which means three out of four caucuses are expecting to have new leadership in 2021!). During this unprecedented election year, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, results could point to a very different and important year in Hartford in 2021.



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