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OP-ED | How Mitt Romney Can Win Connecticut

by Heath W. Fahle | Aug 31, 2012 1:38pm
(15) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2012, Opinion

With the most recent Quinnipiac poll showing that Mitt Romney trails President Obama by only seven points in the state, the absurd notion that a Republican presidential candidate could win Connecticut doesn’t seem quite so anymore. After reviewing the poll and putting aside my own skepticism, I built a presidential vote model to project a Romney win in the state. The path to victory is difficult but doable. Here’s how Mitt Romney can win Connecticut.

Obama 2008

Romney 2012?

The model assumes that Connecticut’s voter turnout will mimic its 2008 level, with just over 78 percent of voters participating and 5 percent voter registration growth from October 2011 to November 2012. It projects slightly more than 1.6 million votes will be cast by Connecticut voters, making the slimmest possible win total about 810,000 votes.

The path to victory starts with rock-ribbed Republicans. Question #1 of the poll indicated that 93 percent of Republicans are planning to vote for Romney and question #13 showed they are far more enthusiastic about voting than anyone else. For Romney to win statewide, 90 percent of registered Republicans must vote and the 93 percent GOP support for Romney must hold to produce a block of 360,000 votes.

Even with sky high turnout and shoulder-to-shoulder unity, Republicans can produce only about half the number of votes necessary for their candidate’s victory. He will need 75 percent of unaffiliated voters to show up and he’ll need a majority of them to vote for him. That generates about 346,000 votes. Together, Republicans and unaffiliated voters would produce 706,000 votes, or about 76,000 more than John McCain received statewide from all voters in 2008 — but still not enough to win.

Unless Romney can win 61 percent of unaffiliated voters though, he will still be about 100,000 votes short of victory. This means that 20 percent of Democrats must break ranks and support the Republican in order to secure a narrow 50.5 percent victory statewide and seven precious, unexpected electoral votes.

Such a victory would produce a radically new statewide political map. In 2008, for example, John McCain won only 29 towns. The Romney victory model shows him winning 128 towns, including three towns (Stonington, Bristol, and East Lyme) where President Obama won more than 60 percent of the vote in 2008.

The town-by-town vote differentials would be huge, too. In percentages, McCain won Darien 54-45 but this model would increase the Romney vote share to 71 percent. In North Branford, Sen. McCain lost to Obama 51-47 but Romney would win 62 percent. Prospect, Wolcott, Watertown, Middlebury, and Oxford would each perform 17 percent better for Romney than they did for McCain. To put that in perspective, in Watertown the change translates to about 4,000 GOP and 9,400 unaffiliated votes for Romney. In Darien, it would mean 3,500 GOP and 8,400 unaffiliated Romney votes.

The numbers from the model make the “difficult” part of the path apparent. But the numerical needs dovetail fortuitously with the issues data from the poll. That’s the part that just might make it “doable.” Romney will need unaffiliated voters and dissatisfied Democrats to win Connecticut, and the poll shows that both groups exist in large enough numbers to do so.

The poll indicates that 53 percent of unaffiliated voters say Romney would do a better job on economy (Q poll question #34) and 61 percent say he would do better on the deficit (Q poll question #35). On top of these, 61 percent said that government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals (Q poll #40). If the message war is fought principally on those three issues, there are enough unaffiliated voters that agree with Romney to give him the the majority he needs.

Among Democrats polled, 37 percent of Democrats said they were somewhat or very dissatisfied with the way things are going in Connecticut today (Q poll question #12). This third of Democrats is the target universe for potential Romney supporters. Mr. Romney needs about half of them to vote his way.

This path to victory is difficult but doable. Given the difficulty, it does not make sense for the Romney campaign itself to invest in Connecticut. The current political environment, however, offers another intriguing avenue to Pro-Romney forces in the state. A SuperPAC could fill this role in lieu of the official Romney campaign.

With its own Connecticut-specific mission and a targeted message, such a group could propel Mr. Romney down the path to victory and fundamentally remake American politics at the same time.

The implications of winning this way would be huge. No longer would any state be “safe” if small, dedicated groups of political investors could rally, organize, and invest to create competitive Presidential contests in every state. Imagine bringing Presidential politics to every American state, not just the 10 or so that are the perennial battlegrounds. It would mean more candidate visits, more Presidential visits, and more attention to Presidential politics in many more states.

It would, in short, make the process of electing a President much more small ‘d’ democratic — and a lot more exciting.

Heath W. Fahle is the Policy Director of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy and a former Executive Director of the Connecticut Republican Party. Contact Heath about this article by visiting

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(15) Comments

posted by: mattw | August 31, 2012  11:41pm

A hidden statistic: if Romney needs 20% of Democrats to vote for him, and that number is 100,000, this model depends on Democratic turnout to be just over 60%—15 percentage points lower than unaffiliated turnout, and 30 points lower than Republican turnout. Impossible.

I can’t recall any election I’ve ever looked at where unaffiliateds turned out at a rate even close to that of registered political party members. And for one party to have a 50% higher turnout than another would require a bona fide Act of God.

Bring Democratic turnout up to 75% to match that of unaffiliateds (which would still wildly overestimate relative turnouts of Rs and Us relative to Ds—something like 85% R, 80% D, and 70% U would be at least plausible) and you add another 125k Democrats to the equation—and assuming Romney can triple the number of Dems voting for him from the Q poll as you suggest, you still have net +75000 votes for Obama.

The path to victory for Romney would look much like that for Republican gubernatorial candidates in Connecticut—a much lower overall turnout in the mid-50s (preventing Democrats from benefiting from their numerical registration advantage), and a 20-or-more point advantage among unaffiliated voters. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your outlook), the national issues which increase turnout so substantially in Presidential years are the same issues that have produced the dramatic registration disparity in our state, and while avoiding those issues lets someone like Foley get close, it would doom a Republican running for a Presidential nomination.

posted by: CT Jim | September 1, 2012  10:12am

i agree with mattw. The math doesnt add up at all its more of a pie in the sky dream Heath came up with than reality. Did you not see the republican convention??? Everybody including my Republican friends took away from that convention was that Paul Ryan is continuing to lie about the GM plant and on the night of Romneys speech all they recall is some 82 year old actor mumbling on stage. Nobody sees that performance as a path to victory. He had his chance and blew it

posted by: Lawrence | September 2, 2012  7:40am

Mattw, quit bogin’ his high. Republicans love to make up numbers then draw faulty conclusions, don’t you know that? How do you think these right-wing ‘‘think tanks’’ operate??

posted by: Heath | September 2, 2012  7:51am


mattw: Its a model that assumes a great deal - like for example the Q poll is right, which I’m skeptical about.

The model ran Dem turnout at 75%, not 60%. It also projected for a registration increase of 9% from 2011 and I rounded for readability - that accounts for the differences between our numbers.

Your point on relative turnouts is well taken. I ran it again on the 85/80/70 mix, which changes the Romney unaffiliated split from 52% to 56% if you continue the party vote splits from Run 1.

posted by: Palin Smith | September 2, 2012  12:23pm

Romney will get at least 25% of Democrats. There are still that many who still think!

posted by: SalRomano | September 2, 2012  9:12pm

CT Jim: “As a Hard-Core-Democrat”—your biased views of the Republican Convention are being viewed as Democratic bitter-oats.  Loosen up—vote for Mitt Romney—OR WE ALL LOSE.  Obama has added $5.2 trillion dollars to our national debt in the past 44 months, and there are 23 million workers unemployed. Start thinking about the future of our counntry—instead of a failed Democratic leadership.  Vote for Mitt Romney to save our United States of America.  Obama is a proven failure—who must be replaced by a competent proven, successful businessman in Romney. Obama never even ran a hot-dog stand in real life, and his failed policies prove it. His community organizer background did not prepare him for the top elected-job in our country, “and his on-the- job training results have been burying our country into massive indebtedness and unemployment—as Obama doesn’t have a clue about creating business and jobs.” Mitt Romney has produced business and jobs, and will do so as our next President.

posted by: robn | September 3, 2012  10:25am

Maybe CT would get a bit more attention from the President and Congress (and not be a donor state) if it switched its party sentiment every once and a while. I’ve been contemplating this election and it seems a bit less like a Dem vs a Rep and more like a Chicago guy vs a Massachusetts guy.

posted by: redlady | September 3, 2012  10:29am

Romney will win if every single Obama-supporter went to see the 2016 Movie. People are generally intelligent and when faced with reality will make good choices. Obama has spent us into a massive mess, ticked off every single one of our allies, forced unconstitutional laws without Congressional acceptance, and waged race & gender war. How much more does he have to do to prove his intent? Wake up and choose Romney. At least get to the polls and do something, anything, to end the madness.

posted by: CT Jim | September 3, 2012  1:20pm

Sal I’m sure as a rabid partisan right wing republican you figured i’d just read your stuff and say oh yeah I gotta have Romney…well once again your wrong… Why dont you ask the workers from KB toys how great Bain Capitol was for them? Maybe you might want to ask the people at Dunkin doughnuts how it feels to be paying interest on $1.2 billion in debt that Bain forced them to take out to pay off the bain boys.  Imagine your a successful businessman if you can put in $5million into a company to pull out $160 million 18 months later and leave that company wallowing in debt while you and your buddies hide the money in overseas accounts. It’s that the person you want running america??? Theres a great article in the rolling stone detailing all of Romneys looting of these companies with little or no money down. No thank you Sal you can keep your romney/Ryan destruction team..And please take your meds your dillusional really just concerned for your mental health

posted by: CT Jim | September 3, 2012  1:22pm

And when will Romney produce those tax returns??? oh yeah he didnt pay any so why produce them. If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck chances are its a duck

posted by: Hebee | September 3, 2012  2:20pm

I agree with Palin Smith on the point that at least 25% of Democrats will vote the President out (and soon enough the Gov too). No thinking person can really believe that “Bush Did It”, AGAIN!

Those Dems like Lawrence (always vote for the Party, not the candidate) lend support to the old adage: “In places where everyone thinks alike, not much thinking is done.”

posted by: SalRomano | September 3, 2012  7:58pm

Palin Smith: Barack Obama is already in big trouble in Connecticut—as he trails Mitt Romney 47-45% in today’s poll.  Chris Murphy won’t be brought into office by Obama’s coat-tails when Romney wins the election.  He will have to show up for work, when he goes back to his law practice. His taxpayer paid honeymoon in Congress will end, but he will still get a lucrative pension and top of the line benefits—for “milking the federal system to perfection.”
It’s no wonder our country is broke!  And the voters elect these losers.

posted by: CT Jim | September 4, 2012  5:31am

And Sal you base all of your stuff on your own beliefs, not a one based on fact. Your boy is getting pounded based on facts. Based on polling from swing states that show if he doesn’t totally wipe out Obamas majority in all those states he’s toast. So please as they would say on dragnet. Just the facts mam

posted by: SalRomano | September 21, 2012  2:00pm

CT Jim You get your facts from the Democratic National Committee and the White House Press secretary.  The facts are that our Barack Obama powerbrokers have bankruptcy-driven economy into $5.2 trillion dollars of federal deficit spending in the past 46 month—without even producing a jobs plan for our 23 miilion unemployed citizens.  Those are the facts—you woiuld like to cover up by smearing Linda McMahon—“when Chris Murphy has been the Barack Obama servant—that is burying our country with Obamamania crippling-spending-polcies.

posted by: redlady | September 21, 2012  8:46pm

Many of our “Kennedy Democrats” have figured out what Obama is up to and they (especially our seniors) are ready to put an end to his reign. Hopefully it will be enough in CT to keep someone like Murphy out of the Senate as well. His voting record pretty much spells out where his loyalties lie….and, it’s not with the constituents.