CT has outside chance of tilting presidential primary contest

Washington – When it comes to presidential primaries, there are states that have a disproportionate impact and others little at all, and Connecticut may be in the latter category this year.

Super Tuesday results have helped set the course, as far as frontrunners from both parties in the race to the White House this year. But the 20 states and several territories that host primaries or caucuses before Connecticut’s April 26 presidential primary election are expected to cement the nomination.

That’s not to say any candidate will have the delegates needed to wrap things up by then. The Republican nominee needs at least 1,237 delegates and the Democratic nominee  at least 2,383 to do that.

With 70 Democratic delegates and 28 Republican delegates in play in the state, Connecticut voters may help the candidates reach those goals.

But when Connecticut voters go to the polls on April 26, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may be too far ahead in the count to impact the course of the race.

“Sadly, I don’t think Connecticut voters are going to tilt the scales of politics in the presidential race of either party,” said Quinnipiac University political science professor Scott McLean. “The race is coming to a close in the next two weeks.”

Others say that’s not completely clear.

“Certainly Clinton seems to be heading into dominance before Connecticut’s primary, but prognostication is clearly hazardous in this unpredictable year,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who has endorsed Clinton. “The political world has been turned upside down in the last few months.”

Last time Clinton ran for president, in a Democratic primary against Barack Obama in 2008, the Democratic nomination had not been wrapped up before Connecticut primary voters had a chance to weigh in. Those voters gave Obama a narrow victory.

Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island also hold their presidential primaries on April 26.

University of Connecticut political science professor Ron Schurin said it’s likely the presumptive Democratic nominee will be decided by that date, but there’s “an outside chance” the GOP contest may not be finished.

“A ‘stop Trump’ movement may be taking hold,” Schurin said. “I wouldn’t bet on it, but it’s possible.”

Much will be decided by the outcomes in delegate-rich states like Florida and Ohio, where Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich may be able to stop Trump’s momentum.

Those primaries are on March 15.

Most delegates won so far have been allocated on a proportional basis depending on the percentage of support each candidate has received in a primary election. After March 15, however, more states will allocate delegates on a “winner-take-all” basis.

That could help the front-runners, or give their challengers a boost.

As far as who Connecticut primary voters will favor on April 26, Schurin said a Sanders win would give Connecticut’s Democratic political establishment, which has unanimously endorsed Clinton, “a black eye.”

As far as Trump, Connecticut Republican leaders have refrained from embracing the billionaire mogul.

But Schurin said Tuesday’s results in Massachusetts, where Trump won the support of nearly 50 percent of the state’s GOP primary voters, “shocks and startles me.” Like Connecticut, Massachusetts is known for its brand of moderate Republicanism.

“That Massachusetts goes so heavily for Trump means something is going on in Connecticut,” Schurin said.

The Yankee Primary

There was once an attempt to give Connecticut greater relevance in the presidential primary contests.

In 1996 Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island agreed to hold a “Yankee Primary” on the first Tuesday in March. Massachusetts and Vermont kept that early date, but the other states decided to push their primaries back.

“I can’t figure out why this is the case,” said Quinnipiac’s McLean.

When asked, Connecticut Democratic Party spokesman Leigh Appleby said it’s up to the state legislature to change the date of Connecticut’s primary elections.

He disputed, however, that this year’s primary will be held too late in the season to have an impact.

“Connecticut voters will have their voices heard on April 26,” Appleby said.

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