In State Primary, Few Clues About Voter Attitudes

by
August 14, 2010

By PAUL BASS, The New York Times

NEW HAVEN — With each state primary being scrutinized for signs of what is to come nationally in November, Connecticut voters threw off few cues Tuesday night. Jobs? Yes, voters said. Anger? Yes. But throw out the status quo? Hardly.

In the biggest surprise on Tuesday night, Dannel P. Malloy, a seven-term former Stamford mayor, crushed the businessman Ned Lamont, 58 percent to 42 percent, for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Mr. Malloy’s slogan: “Values and experience money can’t buy.” Like Senator Michael Bennet, who won Colorado’s Democratic primary on Tuesday night, Mr. Malloy found no reason to apologize for knowing his way around government.

But with turnout so low, it is difficult to draw any broad conclusions about what Connecticut voters had in mind when they went to the polls on Tuesday — or what they will do in November.

At most, Democratic and Republican voters showed evidence of disdain for the political process, particularly when it came to big spending by wealthy, self-financed candidates. They also voiced their disapproval of the incessant barrage of negative advertising (something voters always say they hate, but which often does not affect the way they cast their ballots).

Mr. Lamont, who has never held elective office but who became a political superstar in 2006 when he beat Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the incumbent, for the Democratic nomination, spent more than $9 million, a record, on this year’s campaign for governor; $8.6 million of it was his own money. Mr. Malloy had $2.75 million to spend, mostly from Connecticut’s public-financing program.

Mr. Lamont flooded mailboxes, voice mailboxes and television airwaves with advertisements. He had hundreds more vote-pullers on the streets. He dominated the polls. And he lost.

Supporters of Mr. Malloy say he may not have had money, but he had a message, and voters responded to that. Theyalso see his nomination as proof that the campaign public-financing system works.

“Great ideas outweigh great bank accounts,” said State Senator Andrew McDonald, a Democrat of Stamford and a Malloy supporter.

To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/12/nyregion/12conn.html?_r=1

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