CT Voter Turnout Appears Highest for a Gubernatorial Race Since 1990

In the early 1990’s, voter turnout in Connecticut’s gubernatorial elections reached 68.2 percent in 1990 and 65.1 percent in 1994.  Turnout hasn’t reached that high level in the state’s quadrennial gubernatorial elections since – until Tuesday. The Office of Secretary of the State is reporting, as of Wednesday night, that statewide voter turnout was 66.9 percent.  If that turnout percentage stands, it would be the highest turnout in a race for Governor in nearly three decades, since 1990.

The strong turnout percentage this year is underscored by the fact that the number of registered voters is considerably larger.  As of Nov. 2 – not including those individuals who registered and voted on Election Day – the number of registered voters in Connecticut was 2,165,045, according to the Office of Secretary of the State.  Back in the ‘90’s, the list of registered voters hovered between 1.7 million and 1.8 million.  This year’s election brought a higher percentage of voters to the polls from a larger list of individuals registered to vote.

Voter turnout – the percentage of registered voters who actually vote – was 56.6 in 1998, 56.5 in 2002 when there were 1.8 million registered voters, and 59.8 in 2006 when the voter rolls reached 1.9 million.

The 1990 race featured well-known, high profile candidates for Governor – former U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker, Congressman Bruce Morrison and Congressman John Rowland.  The race was won by Weicker, running as a third party candidate.  Rowland would go on to win the office four years later, when voter turnout was somewhat lower.

In 2006, when the Connecticut voters considered their choices in a gubernatorial match-up between Gov. Jodi Rell and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, a U.S. Senate race that featured Sen. Joe Lieberman, Democratic candidate Ned Lamont and republican Alan Schlessinger was also on the ballot drawing considerable interest.  Turnout that year reached 59.8 percent.

In 2010, Democrat Dannel Malloy won his first term as Governor, defeating Republican Tom Foley by the relatively narrow margin of 6,404 votes.  A third party candidate, Tom Marsh, received 17,629 votes.   Voter turnout that year was 57.4 percent.

Voter turnout is consistently higher in presidential election years.  In 2016, for the Donald Trump – Hillary Clinton contest, the voter turnout in Connecticut was 76.9 percent.  It had been slightly higher in 2008, when Barack Obama was on the ballot here for the first time, at 78.1 percent.

The number of people registered to vote also tends to surge in presidential election years.  In 2016 in Connecticut, the voter list included 2.1 million residents.  This year’s voter registration numbers, just prior to Election Day, were closing in on that total.

This story was updated at midnight Wednesday to reflect latest turnout percentage provided by the Office of Secretary of the State, which increased slightly throughout the day as additional information was provided by municipalities.

Will Blizzard of '78 Be Repeated in 2015?

Is Connecticut in for another Blizzard of ’78?  For those old enough to remember, there has been nothing like it since.  The blizzard shut down the state of Connecticut and much of New England - roads, businesses, schools, just about everything.  The legendary storm is not only vivid in memories - it has been the subject of a documentary on Connecticut Public Television, and has its own website, Blizzardof78.org, the work of amateur historian Matt Bowling.blizzard photo The website recalls that “in Connecticut, Governor Ella Grasso was trying to drive from the Governor’s Mansion to the state storm center in downtown Hella helpartford.   She didn’t quite make it.  Forced to abandon her car and walk the remaining blocks to the state armory, Grasso was not slow in taking the storm seriously.  Thanks to (Massachusetts Governor Michael) Dukakis and Grasso, both state and National Guard troops would soon be on their way.”

Recalled former WTNH-TV newscaster Kenn Venit, “By Monday afternoon if you weren't home, you weren't going home." More than two feet blanketed the state, with drifts as much as eight times that height.

Gov. Grasso shut down the state for three days (including the interstate highways), and President Jimmy Carter declared Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts federal disaster areas, recalled The Hartford Courant in a retrospective published a year ago.   A contingent of 547 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, flew in to help National Guard crews clean up the mess and help the region slowly re-start daily routines that had been abruptly halted.connnatgrd

Snow fell at a rate of 4 inches an hour at times during the storm, which lasted for 36 hours, according to published reports. The unusual duration of the 1978 Nor’easter was caused by a Canadian high pressure system, which forced the storm to loop east and then back toward the north. Thunder, lightning and hail was seen in the blizzard as it blanketed the Northeast with over three feet of snow, and the shoreline was battered by high tides and hurricane force winds.

Two years ago, in early February 2013, a sizable blizzard rolled into New England which threatened to usurp the Blizzard of '78's place in the recent record books.  Despite heavy, sustained snowfall,  it didn't.

 Videos from CPTV and NBC News (with reports from John Chancellor, David Brinkley, Brian Ross and Robert Hager) highlight the Blizzard of  '78 in Connecticut.