Primary Post-Mortem

August 12, 2010

A little late because I’ve had a rather busy couple of days. However I wanted to share some thoughts on the primary results. The media has been reporting on the low turnout levels and the Courant suggests that low turnout can be attributed to lack of avenues to participation. A reader suggests that negative campaigning and a lack of good candidates caused the low turnout. I do not believe that either of these are the cause. I think the voters are apathetic towards these primaries and that this is reflected in the turnout. For the past month voters have been inundated with direct mail, phone calls, television, and everything else. The election was not some kind of secret. <p>The lack of interest in the primaries makes me wonder whether the primaries themselves are worth the taxpayer money spent on them. I’m referring not to the CEP but to the administrative costs of actually putting together the elections. I do not make the suggestion lightly, but maybe these primary contests are not worth the effort. If not a convention maybe we could find some alternative method to choose our candidates. The important thing is to do it in a way that saves money, allows people who are not engaged all year to become engaged, and might also save everyone else the pain and drama of a drawn out contest.</p><p></p><p>This election also showed that money is not the entire election equation. Many cynics suggested that Dan Malloy and other candidates would not be able to compete with the millions of dollars that Ned Lamont or Tom Foley would spend on their races. However Malloy was outspent by a four to one ratio ($2.5 to $10 Million) and managed to win with a comfortable 16% margin. At the same time Mike Fedele only lost by three points against Tom Foley after being outspent by him. The record amount of money spent by the candidates did not create a record turnout and it did not manage to create the wins these candidates should have seen if money could buy the election. Instead other factors, many intangible such as the field operation, mood of the voters, and sweat equity played a big role in deciding the outcomes. Money does matter but it suffers from diminishing marginal returns and can only take you so far.</p><p>The big loser in this election was the Quinnipiac Poll. I don’t know what they were doing but I think something is wrong with their polling operation because they did not seem to do a great job of predicting some of the races.</p><p>People have also been making comments about the negative advertisements. I’m not entirely convinced that they were the impetus for the low turnout or for the surprising results in the Democratic and Republican primaries but they certainly were noticed.</p><p></p>

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.