Lamont can thank state’s ‘ Middle’ town( s) for win
Governor- elect Ned Lamont said plenty of bleary- eyed thank yous after his early Wednesday victory. He owes gratitude beyond the big cities and rich, anti- Trump towns that swung toward him.
The Democrat’s biggest thank- you goes to voters who turned out in nearrecord numbers — evenly, across the whole state.
In a Hearst Connecticut Media analysis of unofficial returns compared with vote counts in the 2010 race between then- candidate, now Gov. Dan- nel P. Malloy and Tom Foley, the Greenwich Democrat won the battle for added voters across the state and across income groups.
Lamont outdueled Republican Bob Stefanowski in middle- income towns; he kept an attack by a petitioning
candidate in check; and he minimized his losses in the small- town bastions that make up the Republican base.
The first Malloy- Foley election was the last time two non- incumbents vied for the governor’s office and was razor close — a good benchmark for comparison. Malloy beat Foley by less than 7,000 votes in the year when Republicans took both houses of Congress.
This time around, the margin for Lamont was 44,581 as of late Friday’s count — and Lamont’s total was a prosaic 694,694 votes.
The turnout war of 2018
Every single city and town in Connecticut saw more voters in Tuesday’s election between Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski than in 2010.
In all, there were nearly 260,000 more voters this time around, pushing the turnout to 66 percent. Where they turned out in biggest numbers had real consequences for Stefanowski, as blue citadels led the way.
Stamford saw 10,061 more voters; in Norwalk an added 8,328 showed up and in New Haven nearly 7,000 more checked a dot for governor than in 2010. Even little Union — population around 800 — came out with 31 additional votes in Tuesday’s contest.
Stefanowski won Union by 95 votes. Lamont won Norwalk, New Haven and Stamford by a combined 43,229 votes. In Stamford, the city with largest uptick compared with 2010 — notable, since Malloy had been mayor for 14 years — Lamont’s increase was nearly 80 percent as large as the additional tally. Stefanowski picked up less than 1,700 over Foley.
If we measure each 2018 candidate’s tally above that of his party- mate from 2010, compared with the overall increase in each town, we see that Stefanowski had a bigger percentage of the gain in more towns. But Lamont beat Malloy’s total by 124,400, while Stefanowski outpolled Foley by 88,650.
The fact that Stefanowski’s tally would have elected him governor in almost any other year is of little solace.
The takeaway — more voters came out because of backlash against Donald Trump and Malloy — and Lamont did a better job of collecting the higher numbers. He won the Turnout War of 2018, and thus the race.
Middle- income winner
We knew Lamont would trounce Stefanowski in the poor cities. We saw that Lamont fared better than expected in the richest towns.
That meant Stefanowski had to win big in the towns in the middle of the income scale, the Connecticut heartland. Instead, a narrow win in the the middleincome turf war played a large role in putting Lamont in the governor’s mansion.
In 72 cities and towns with median household incomes between $ 65,000 and $ 87,000, Lamont staved off Stefanowski by some 4,500 combined votes — even though Stefanowski won 49 of those 72 municipalities.
Fittingly, he also won Middletown ( home of his running mate, Susan Bysiewicz) by some 3,560 votes, though the titular town falls just below our income threshold. Also fittingly, Stefanowski won more Middles — both Middlefield and Middlebury, by 341 and 1,223 votes respectively — which was still not enough to make up for Lamont’s Middletown margin.
Stefanowski did better if you don’t count the large towns and small cities in the middle of the income scale. For example, if you lop off anyplace that produced more than 20,000 votes, and count the towns with median household earnings between $ 65,000 and $ 95,000, you’re left with the state’s 79 heartland towns — not poor, not rich, not big.
Stefanowski needed to annihilate Lamont in these places. He did win by 11 percentage points, good for 45,000 more votes than Lamont racked up — but it wasn’t nearly enough. Lamont hammered home the local property tax issue to counter Stefanowski’s promise to end the state income tax.
The Griebel Factor
Oz Griebel, the petitioning unaffiliated candidate, won 3.9 percent of the vote. Experts were divided on who he’d hurt most, and the evidence shows a split.
In the 40 cities and towns where the former economic development executive scored more than 6 percent, Stefanowski and Lamont were separated by a total of less than 1,500 — out of 300,000 votes cast. And Griebel fared equally well in the places where Lamont and Stefanowski performed best.
By contrast, Tom Marsh, the unaffiliated candidate in 2010, tallied less than 2 percent. But he clearly did better in Foley towns than in Malloy cities and towns — and may have cost Foley the election, with three times as many total votes as Malloy’s margin.
Rich man, rich towns
Overall, Lamont won with 49.4 percent of the vote, about the same as Malloy’s performance. But in the 12 richest towns, Lamont averaged a 6 percentage point improvement over Malloy’s 2010 results.
Only one of those towns, Woodbridge, delivered Lamont less than a 4.5 point gain over Malloy. And of the 12 towns, ten are in Fairfield County. Stefanowski still won the 12 richest towns by 2,145 votes. But Tom Foley clobbered Malloy in them, by 17,193 votes.
Small towns, cushy GOP wins
The smaller the town, the more likely it swung big for Stefanowski.
In the 22 towns with fewer than 1,500 votes cast this election, Stefanowski’s median margin of victory was 17 percent. He walloped Lamont in Colebrook by 29.7 percentage points, and took Morris with nearly 31.
The trouble is, Stefanowski’s red wave crested largest in small ponds: He got 520 votes in Colebrook and 810 in Morris.
In towns casting fewer than 5,580 votes in the gubernatorial election — the median number cast of 169 cities and towns — Stefanowski also triumphed, winning a combined 54.3 percent of the vote to Lamont’s 40.3 percent.
He won the smaller half of Connecticut by 33,784 votes. But that sizable goahead was wiped away when big blue cities were finally tallied in Wednesday’s early hours.
New Haven and Stam- ford — among the last cities to report results to the state — together sent Lamont 55,347 votes, outgunning Stefanowski’s support in half of the state.
A cosmo boost
Quietly, three big uppermiddle- income towns/ small cities played an outsized role in delivering a broad victory to Lamont.
They are Norwalk, West Hartford and Fairfield — places that view themselves as little slices of cosmopolitan, East Coast America. As it happened, they produced three of the five largest turnouts in the state.
And Lamont cleaned up, beating Stefanowski by a combined 18,669 in those three alone — compared with Malloy’s 2010 margin of 6,697 over Foley. The upshot: Lamont’s message of investing in the state hit home in the land of big towns and big salads.
Low- income support
In the 12 poorest cities and towns, Lamont won a lower percentage than Malloy ‘ 10 in nine of them — including Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford. But it didn’t matter, because those 12 municipalities, almost all pro- Democrat, saw a huge increase in turnout, boosting Lamont’s margin over Stefanowski to 78,400, compared with Malloy’s 62,800 over Foley.
The poorest include five of the six largest cities ( Stamford is richer) and a few small towns including Ansonia, the only one to side with Stefanowski. The upshot: Fears of a Lamont enthusiasm gap in cities and poor towns were not warranted.