After the bitterly contested New York primary, the Republican and Democratic candidates have moved onto Connecticut. Connecticut voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, April 26, to cast their ballots for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees. Democratic candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be competing for the state’s 71 delegates, which will be proportionally awarded according to each candidate’s vote share.
The three remaining GOP candidates, businessman Donald J. Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, will compete for the state’s 28 Republican delegates, who will be awarded on a “winner-take-most” basis. Party rules dictate that any candidate who surpasses a 50 percent share of the vote will be awarded all 28 of the delegates up for grabs.
Candidates who are not able to collect 20 percent of the vote in a given congressional district will not win any delegates. Given these rules, the Cruz campaign may lose out on the chance of collecting any delegates during Connecticut’s nominating contest.
Trump suffered a major setback in his attempt to capture the Republican nomination on the first ballot after losing the Wisconsin primary to Ted Cruz by a double-digit margin. The Cruz campaign has proved much more adept at “delegate hunting” and effectively shut Trump out of the Utah and Wyoming caucuses, as well as the Colorado state nominating contest.
Although Trump is behind pace on reaching the 1,237 delegates needed to automatically clinch the nomination, his campaign has regained momentum after soundly defeating Cruz and Kasich in the New York state primary. The Northeast has been friendly territory for Trump, who has polled well in Connecticut; a recent Emerson College poll has Trump ahead of his closest competitor, John Kasich, by 24 points. Trump is also expected to win on Tuesday in Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
Trump kicked off his campaign in Connecticut at a rally in Hartford on Friday, citing his deep ties to the state and close friendships with local residents as reasons to support his candidacy. “We’re going to start winning,” Trump boasted to the crowd while delivering his usual stump speech. The real estate mogul continued on to warn the crowd, “If you’re not going to vote for Trump, don’t bother going.” Trump went on to criticize job outsourcing in the state, reminiscent of a popular tool of his campaign, lamenting, “You look at Connecticut and they’re being devastated by all of these companies leaving. Losing General Electric is a disaster.”
Kasich, who has yet to win a single nominating contest outside of his home state of Ohio, will look to steal voters from Trump in the coming days. Kasich has no mathematical shot at winning 1,237 delegates. Instead, the Kasich camp is hoping to win the nomination at a brokered Republican convention in June, basing his optimism on polls that show him doing better against the Democrats than his rivals, if on little else. Kasich has been campaigning in the state, holding town hall forums with local residents. “[The delegates] know they’re going to pick someone who has to win in the fall, and I’m the only one who consistently does,” Kasich asserted during an interview in Fairfield.
Still, many Republicans have grown increasingly frustrated with Kasich, whose case for the nomination continues to lose credibility as the governor has seriously underperformed in states with more moderate Republican voting blocs.
On the Democratic side, Clinton is the favorite to win Connecticut, with FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver expecting her to get 51 percent of the vote, compared to 39.7 percent for Sanders. Clinton has received strong endorsements from the state’s governor, Dannel P. Malloy, as well as both of Connecticut’s sitting senators.
Clinton’s campaign team in Connecticut focused much of its rhetoric around gun control, an issue important to a state still reeling from the violence at Sandy Hook. The former Secretary of State met with the victims of gun violence, promising to enact stricter gun laws as president. Junior Senator Chris Murphy, one of the most liberal lawmakers in the nation, went so far as to issue a statement rebuking Sanders’ stance on granting gun manufacturers exemption from legal proceedings, stating, “Dems can’t nominate a candidate who supports gun manufacturer immunity.”
Sanders, meanwhile, will have to rely on a large coalition of white, young, liberal voters if he hopes to win Connecticut’s primary on Tuesday. Sanders enjoyed a great deal of success in March, particularly in smaller caucus states, by mobilizing this voting bloc. However, he will have to broaden his appeal to reach other demographic groups if he hopes to win in Connecticut.
At this stage of what has been a tumultuous process, both Clinton and Trump seem to be on their way to victory in Connecticut. While no one can predict the future, it is likely that Connecticut will confirm the narrative established in New York and award both frontrunners the delegates they need to advance to the nomination.