For hours after the polls closed Tuesday night, as vote tallies cropped up from town to town, Tom Foley enjoyed a steady if tantalizingly thin margin in his quest to unseat Gov. Dan Malloy.
But here at The Scoop, we could tell early on that Foley was in serious trouble, even as he seemed to be thousands of votes ahead.
Our early warning came from a simple system that not only compiled the local results as they were announced, but also analyzed how each candidate was faring compared to their initial match four years ago. That deeper look at the numbers showed that almost from the beginning, there was evidence Foley was facing an uphill battle to avoid a replay of his 2010 defeat.
Connecticut elections typically display a sharp divide between the most-populous cities, which vote overwhelmingly Democratic, and smaller suburban and rural towns, many of which lean moderately or heavily Republican. But it’s those smaller towns, many with a single voting precinct, that report early, giving Republican candidates a phantom edge that can be wiped out when the totals come in from the cities.
In the newsroom, we could see that while Foley once again did well in traditionally Republican towns, he was losing ground in many of those communities compared to four years ago. Later, it was evident that he had failed to substantially chip away at Malloy’s huge margins of victory in the large cities. For more details on how Malloy’s victory came together, see my colleague Dan Haar’s excellent analysis.
Tuesday’s vote offered a fresh reminder of the dangers of reading too much into early returns. So on election nights to come, it’s worth remembering that even with hyper-competitive news coverage of a hyper-competitive political process, patience is still a virtue.
The map below shows how Malloy and Foley fared Tuesday, compared to their vote spreads in 2010. Towns shaded blue are those in which Malloy performed better than four years ago, either by extending his margin of victory or shrinking Foley’s. Similarly, red-shaded towns are those in which Foley either won by more votes or lost by fewer. Deeper colors indicate are more dramatic improvement over 2010. Click on a town for details.