Polls in Connecticut, on this most unusual Election Day, have closed. Here’s a quick view of what’s been happening in the state, at election parties, at polling places and at candidate headquarters:
While turnout numbers weren’t available from Bridgeport’s Registrar of Voters, polling places across the city showed that voters made a strong showing.
At Harding High School, election worker Brian Banacowski said he thought voter turnout this year was actually higher than in 2008. As early as 5 a.m. Tuesday, “there was a line from here all the way out almost to the parking lot,” he said, speaking from the gym at Harding High where people cast their votes. Election workers at several other poll stations made similar observations.
Ten minutes after polls closed Tuesday night, Blackham Elementary School in Bridgeport’s North End was still packed with hundreds of people waiting to cast their ballot. By 9:30, the Himes campaign reported, voters were still waiting in line at the polls in some of Norwalk’s and Bridgeport’s biggest precincts.
They were willing to wait — but not all of them were excited about their vote.
“I’m ready for it to be over,” said Sheryl Rosen, who has lived in Bridgeport for 16 years. “The campaigns are ugly. Nobody has anything positive to say about anybody…I’m going to go in there and I’m going to pick the least offensive liar.”
Rosen said she is a registered Democrat, but still wasn’t sure who she was going to vote for as she waited in line. She didn’t vote for Linda McMahon during the 2010 Senate race, but she expected to vote for her this time — and possibly split her ticket and vote for Barack Obama, as many McMahon supporters were trying to persuade voters to do outside polling stations Tuesday.
“The fact that she went against her party line [by suggesting people split their ticket] tells me that she’s not going to be one of these “mmm hmm, OK, whatever you say people in the Senate, and that’s what we need,” Rosen said.
McMahon supporters were a constant presence in Bridgeport Tuesday, with little sign of Chris Murphy. Ken Johnson was one of many wearing purple “Obama-McMahon” T-shirts. He said he found a job with McMahon’s campaign after a friend of his started working for her.
“[McMahon has] given a lot of people…people who I think Chris Murphy would have snubbed…opportunities to work for her,” Johnson said. “She’s already had a lasting presence here, versus Chris Murphy who has not…I believe he’s failed us as a Congressman.”
Still, despite the barrage of advertising on radios, televisions, and doorknobs across the district, few people could even name all the candidates in races besides the presidential contest.
Lashaya Marrow, a student at Southern Connecticut State University, was most excited to vote for Obama because of his position on lowering the interest on student loans and helping students pay for college. But she didn’t know anything about Congressman Jim Himes or his challenger Steve Obsitnik, so she left that section of the ballot blank, she said.
Marrow did vote for Chris Murphy, having watched him speak once. “He actually did a great job and he touched on some things that are important to me,” she said.
Elizabeth Esty supporters are trickling in to her election night party at CoCo Key Water Resort. The party wasn’t officially scheduled to begin until 8:30 p.m., so supporters could be at the polls until they closed at 8.
The Backstage Restaurant in downtown Torrington is filling up with Andrew Roraback supporters, but there’s still almost as much media in room. Roraback — the Republican candidate for the hotly contested 5th Congressional District seat — is huddled with his staff, out of public view.
In East Hartford
A handful of residents were manning the phones before 8 p.m. in East Hartford. They’re calling New Hampshire voters. And volunteers from the state boarded buses Nov. 3 and 4 to GOTV in the Granite State. About 2 dozen residents signed up on each of those days to knock on doors.
Aaron Gardner heads up the CT Obama headquarters. He wouldn’t talk to reporters, but I spoke with a volunteer heading home, Maureen Moran of Bolton. She volunteered Sunday and today at the phone bank She said this is one of the most important elections of her lifetime and wants to see President Obama re-elected. I’m in health care, she said, and if Gov. Romney is elected, Republicans will repeal the health care reform law.
Linda McMahon, the Republican Senate candidate, made no public appearances Tuesday, other than voting in Greenwich. She was expected to monitor results in the privacy of a room at the Stamford Hilton, then address supporters in the same ballroom where she celebrated her victory in the Republican primary over former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays.
Shortly before 8 p.m., the ballroom was nearly empty, except for a crowded press stand facing a low stage backed by an American flag.
While state House and Senate leaders settled into their respective war rooms minutes before the polls closed to receive results, both parties cited the strong turnout as a harbinger of impending success.
“There has been heavy turnout all day,” Senate Democratic Caucus spokesman Adam Joseph said. as the caucus’ top member, Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr. of Brooklyn, prepared to receive results at Democratic State Party headquarters in Hartford.
House Majority Leader J. Brendan Sharkey, a Hamden Democrat who is expected to be named House speaker in January, arrived at the Capitol to receive results. And his spokesman, Gabe Rosenberg, said House Democrats were equally pleased by numerous reports statewide of heavy turnout.
But the top Republican in the House, Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero of Norwalk, said Democrats don’t have a monopoly on long lines of enthusiastic voters.
“It’s a more energized Republican base this year,” Cafero said from his headquarters at the Norwalk Inn.
Voter lines “were out the door” when Cafero arrived to vote at the Fox Run Elementary School in Norwalk shortly after 6 a.m., and the GOP leader said the voters he chatted with were focused on their desire for change. “There is a quiet determination,” he said. “It is amazing.”
Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, who was receiving results in his home community of Fairfield, predicted the strong turnout would help Republicans capture two key districts in southeastern Connecticut where veteran Democratic incumbents are retiring.