Lamont can thank state’s ‘ Mid­dle’ town( s) for win

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Barry Lyt­ton and Dan Haar

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.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia


Stephen Dunn / As­so­ci­ated Press


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