Presidential Primaries Overlook Connecticut

This story was written by Aaron Boyd, The Daily Campus
The presidential primaries are coming, and the culmination of the past year's in-fighting will come to a close as the Republicans and Democrats choose their respective representatives for the 2008 presidential race. The would-be candidates have been planning, scheming and fighting amongst themselves and their ideological rivals, preparing for when the field will thin to just two.

In the arena of primaries it is the states that hold the power. State party institutions decide the eventual nominee with help from registered party voters. With so much on the line, which candidates are courting Connecticut's delegates?

No one, according to UConn professor of political science Monika McDermott. Connecticut voters are not only predictable, according to McDermott, but because of the primary date, the state party representatives "shot themselves in the foot."

As states scrambled to keep their primaries ahead of the pack, Connecticut chose Feb. 5, the earliest date allowed by both parties (the Republicans allow only Iowa and New Hampshire to hold their primaries before the first Tuesday in February; the Democrats add South Carolina and Nevada to that list; Florida has broken this rule and may face sanctions from the parties). McDermott says the bigger states holding primaries on the 5th, like California and New York, will "suck all the air out of the room" on the 5th, marginalizing Connecticut and other small states.

Even if the Connecticut primary were moved to a different date, it is unlikely that candidates would spend much time or money campaigning here, McDermott said. Connecticut voters are generally predictable, and Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton are perfect ideological fits for the local parties. This assumption is backed by recent polls, most notably a Quinnipiac University poll showing each with the support of almost 50 percent of their respective parties.

"It will be Giuliani and Clinton in California, it will be Giuliani and Clinton in New York, it will be Giuliani and Clinton in Connecticut," McDermott predicted.

The candidates seem to agree with McDermott. Chris Dodd, a U.S. Senator from Connecticut running for the Democratic nomination, is doing little to campaign in his own state, choosing to spend his time instead in Iowa and Nevada, according to the campaign schedule published on his Web site. Whether or not actively campaigning in Connecticut would help, Dodd is currently fourth in the Quinnipiac poll, garnering only seven percent of voter support.

However, Dodd's campaign staff is hopeful.

"People are just beginning to settle down and look at the choices they have in these candidates," said Colleen Flanagan, a spokeswoman for Sen. Dodd's Campaign. "When voters look to the candidate who is best positioned to achieve results on the issues that matter most to them ... we're confident that Chris Dodd will be their choice."

While they wait and hope, Clinton continues to pull further away from the pack.

For the Republicans, Giuliani is the only candidate who is employing paid staff in Connecticut, according to Heath Fahle, the Connecticut Republican Party's political director, who added that the state party remains neutral until a candidate is chosen through the primary process.

The added attention seems to be paying off for Giuliani, who has raised more money in Connecticut than any other Republican, and more than Clinton as well, according to the Federal Election Committee.

Connecticut voters are unlikely to stir up much commotion come Feb. 5, making up less than 3 percent of either parties' delegates (30 of the Republicans' 1058; 48 of the Democrats' 1777).

However, as Giuliani said at a press conference in Hartford on Oct. 29, "You want to win as many of these primaries as possible with the rcognition that you can't win all of them."
© 2007 The Daily Campus via U-WIRE