Democrats swept Connecticut’s senate and congressional races as both parties defended their turf on Election Day, leaving the makeup of the federal and state government largely unchanged after an estimated $6 billion in cumulative campaign spending.
President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney to win re-election with 50 percent of the popular vote and at least 303 electoral votes pending results in Florida, sweeping nearly all of the swing states seen as being critical to a Romney presidency.
“Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated,” Obama said, calling for unity as he took the stage in Chicago at about 1:30 a.m. EST. “As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. … By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin.”
As polls closed on the East Coast Nov. 6, the contest between Rep. Chris Murphy, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Linda McMahon for the seat being vacated by Sen. Joe Lieberman was among the first races to be called by the major television networks.
Murphy’s victory – in what will go down as one of the costliest races in the history of Connecticut politics – set the tone for the remainder of the evening, with Democrats thwarting Republican attempts to regain control over the Senate, and Republicans likewise maintaining a significant edge in the House of Representatives.
In Connecticut’s fourth congressional district, incumbent Rep. Jim Himes, a Greenwich Democrat, defeated Republican nominee Steve Obsitnik by taking 59 percent of the popular vote with about three quarters of the voting precincts reporting results.
Democratic Reps. John Larson, a seven-term incumbent, Joe Courtney, a three-term incumbent, and Rosa DeLauro, an 11-term incumbent, won their respective contests in the state’s first, second and third congressional districts.
In the fifth congressional district, former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat, defeated Republican opponent and former state Sen. Andrew Roraback with 52 percent of the vote and 97 percent of precincts reporting results.
In the Connecticut General Assembly, Democrats appeared to maintain their 2-to-1 advantages in both the state senate and state House of Representatives, according to unofficial results. At press time, it appeared Democrats equaled their 22-to-14 seat advantage in the state senate, while results in most of the state’s house races were still being tallied.
It was the senate race that captured the nation’s attention, however, with former wrestling executive and Stamford resident Linda McMahon pouring roughly $40 million of her own funds into her campaign after having contributed about $50 million to her failed 2010 run against Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Murphy had captured 55 percent of the vote with 88 percent of precincts reporting results. Over the course of the campaign, Murphy was outspent by about a five-to-one ratio.
“Tonight we proved that what matters most in life is the measure of your ideas, is the measure of your determination, is the measure of your friends – not the measure of your wallet,” Murphy said in a victory speech in Hartford.
In conceding the race, McMahon called on voters to hold the state’s elected officials accountable.
“They need to hear from us. They need to know what they need to do so it is our responsibility now. … It is our responsibility to charge them, to challenge them, to make sure they hear what we say and to make sure that they are doing what we need because they work for us,” she said in Stamford. “And if we let them forget that, shame on us because we need to voice our concerns and we need to say what we need and I’m looking forward to being helpful in that regard.”
Despite the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy, all but two of the state’s 773 voting precincts had electricity on Election Day, with no problems reported.
About 1.4 million Connecticut residents voted in the presidential election, with 89 percent of the state’s precincts reporting results.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill reported Nov. 5 that more than 200,000 new voters registered prior to Election Day. Of those, 71,000 were registered Democrats, 33,000 were registered Republicans and 92,500 were unaffiliated.
Statewide, about 767,700 residents are registered Democrats, 430,400 are registered Republicans and 872,200 have no party affiliation.
Editor’s note: Updated Nov. 8 with additional reporting.