Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Margin in 5th District doesn't tell the story of geographic split

Waterbury state Sen. Sam Caligiuri won the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District last night by a pretty comfortable margin - 40 percent to Justin Bernier's 31 percent and Mark Greenberg's 29 percent.
But in keeping with the geographic dynamics of the district over the past decade, that margin was by no means a consistent trend across the map.
In fact, Caligiuri placed first in 19 towns in the 5th District, while Bernier won 18 towns, and Greenberg won three (Danbury, Warren and Woodbury).
Bernier won Torrington and smaller towns throughout the Northwest Corner and down into New Milford, but the combined margin of victory in 11 of those towns, because population and Republican primary votes are relatively low, was 590.
He also beat Caligiuri by a combined margin of 978 votes in the Farmington Valley towns of Avon, Canton, Simsbury and Farmington and his hometown of Plainville.
But that was not enough to overcome Caligiuri's dominance in his home base of Waterbury.
He beat Bernier by a combined margin of 2,965 votes in Waterbury and the surrounding towns of Watertown, Wolcott, Southbury, Middlebury and Cheshire.
The two other major communities in the district, were basically a wash, with Caligiuri winning Meriden by a small margin, and Bernier winning New Britain by a small margin.
Caligiuri spoke during the primary campaign about the importance of geography in the general election.
He said that traditionally, the formula for Republican victory in this district is for the nominee to have a base of support that neutralizes the Democratic nominee's votes in one of the two major Democratic strongholds, Waterbury or New Britain.
Nancy Johnson used to win the district by neutralizing Democratic support in her base of New Britain.
Before her, John Rowland used to win by neutralizing his home base of Waterbury for the Democrats.
Caligiuri had argued that he would have similar support in Waterbury, which would be more important to victory in November than Bernier's base in the Farmington Valley, which would be expected to support a Republican regardless of where they are from.
Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy, seeking his third two-year term, is from Meriden.

On the map above, towns won by Bernier are colored in blue, towns won by Caligiuri are colored in red, and towns won by Greenberg are colored in green.

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