On November 4, Gov. Dan Malloy defeated challenger Tom Foley for a second time to serve a second term as Governor of Connecticut. The most surprising part about the results was the fact that Gov. Malloy beat Mr. Foley by a greater margin than in 2010, which was one of the closest gubernatorial races in recent history in Connecticut. This race was up to the Republicans to either win or lose, especially since Gov. Malloy never received an approval rating over 50% during his first term.
The main reason Gov. Malloy was able to win reelection by a greater margin than last time was because Tom Foley ran a poor general election campaign and never clearly articulated his vision for Connecticut’s future. Say what you will about Gov. Malloy, but at least he has a vision for the state as a cutting edge hub for bioscience, education, research and jobs. Mr. Foley never communicated a clear vision for Connecticut and mainly spoke about things he thought Connecticut voters wanted to hear, such as lower taxes, a friendlier business environment and better schools. The main focus of Tom Foley’s campaign was on the fact that he was not Gov. Malloy.
Voters tend to prefer candidates who stand for something, rather than candidates who are against something. The overall negativity of the race from both sides definitely turned off many voters. Voter turnout was significantly lower than four years ago. When voter turnout is lower, it is typically unaffiliated voters who stay home, which can turn an election into a battle of the bases. In Connecticut, a battle of the bases is going to be won by the Democrats because they enjoy a significantly greater registration advantage than Republicans. In order for the Republicans to win a gubernatorial race in Connecticut, they need to get unaffiliated voters to the polls.
In the end, Gov. Malloy seemed to win reelection because he wanted it more. He made sure that his campaign and the CT Democratic Party did everything they could to get out the vote for him on election day, which included some questionable tactics. On the other side, it seemed like Mr. Foley thought Gov. Malloy’s low favorability ratings would help him coast to victory on election day. When running a campaign, candidates should make sure they do everything in their power to engage voters to ensure they have no regrets on election night.