The Charger Blog

University of New Haven Political Scientist Says Connecticut’s 2018 Primary Elections Up for Grabs

Chris Haynes, assistant professor and coordinator of the political science program, analyzes the key races being contested in Connecticut’s primary elections, discusses who has the edge, and predicts the winners.

August 14, 2018

By Chris Haynes, Assistant Professor

Chris Haynes headshot
Chris Haynes, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Both Republican and Democratic party matchups for Connecticut Governor and the state’s 5th congressional district could go down to the wire Tuesday night. Three points help guide both races.

First, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will win. Second, while President Trump is neither on the ballot nor endorsing any of the candidates, his impact could be significant. And, finally, these races may throw conventional wisdom and political science theories out the door. These are my predictions.

In the race to succeed unpopular Governor Dan Malloy, Democrats will choose between businessman and perennial candidate Ned Lamont and former Bridgeport Mayor and convicted felon Joe Ganim. While Lamont will probably never be an A-list candidate and the Trump induced pro-diversity and anti-corporatist mood among the Democratic electorate sets up well for Ganim, I do not think its enough to wipe away the stain of corruption. My bet is that Lamont squeaks it out.

On the other side of the aisle, for the Republicans, this may be the party’s best opportunity since former Governor Jodi Rell to capture the governor’s seat. This is a match up pitting two traditional pro-business Republicans in Bob Stefanowski and David Stemerman against a well-known establishment-type in Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who is more politically aligned with President Trump.

In the end, I think Boughton’s name recognition, pro-Trump bona fides, and the fact that he is the only major establishment candidate running against two outsiders pushes him over the finish line.

In the race to replace resigning Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Democrats will choose between establishment type and former Mayor of Simsbury Mary Glassman and Jahana Hayes, a political outsider and 2016 National Teacher of the Year.

Given the tidal wave of energy we are seeing on the progressive left and increasing evidence that Democrats nationwide are opting for new people and new ideas, I do not think the establishment support will be enough for Glassman.

My hunch is that Hayes comes from behind and wins a nail-biter. On the other side of the aisle, you have to believe that pro-Trump Meriden Mayor Manny Santos is the clear favorite to beat his two opponents who resemble more of the pre-Trump Republican party. The modern day Republican primary electorate even in Connecticut is not conducive to Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush types.