CHESHIRE--If this summer's trend of voter registration was any indication, this year’s local election is going to be an interesting one in Cheshire, especially for Democratic candidates.
In the summer of 2018, according to input and official registration numbers provided by Cheshire Democratic Registrar Tom Smith, the trends indicated a Blue Wave was on the rise in the town of Cheshire.
While there has been a slight increase of Democrats in town over the years, since 2014 the Democratic voter registrations have increased to the point where on Aug. 23 there were 477 more Democrats than Republicans in Cheshire. As of Sept. 3, that number rose to 481 more Democrats than Republicans. Smith believes it’s the largest lead by Democratic voters over Republicans in the 30 years he has worked in the Registrar’s office.
“We always get an increase in registrations as Election Day gets closer,” Smith said. “It’s hard to say why the trend continues in the favor of Democrats. It’s likely due to a combination of things.
“The problem is we don’t see as much of the public in the Registrar’s office like we used to. Years ago, the only way to register to vote was coming in to the Registrar’s office. Today, you can go online to register, or to DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), the public library, and you can register in high school or other ways. Because fewer people come into the Registrar’s office these days, it’s tough to get a feel for what people are thinking.”
With the lead in registration numbers Democrats have enjoyed in recent years, you would think Cheshire Democrats would be making a dent in a town that has been mostly red, particularly on the Town Council. While the voter registration numbers slightly favored Dems in the past, the real driving force in Cheshire local elections has been Unaffiliated registered voters who have dominated both Democrats and Republicans 2-1.
However, it is hard to ignore the current trend.
More Democrats are registering than Republicans. If you also consider that many Unaffiliateds switched to Democrats to vote in the 2018 primary, in my opinion it is an indicator that the Blue Wave has arrived in Cheshire.
And speaking of Unaffiliated voters.... the tough nut to crack for Democrats over the years has been two-fold.
First, we are a town where only about 30 percent of voters typically come out and vote in local elections. If the majority of Cheshire Democrats came out to vote, it would certainly make a bigger impact for Democrats. Many tend to stay home during local elections. Those Democrats – the ones who stay home--need to exercise one of their most precious rights as an American citizen and vote this election cycle.
Second, there are the Unaffiliated voters who have the numbers to sway a Cheshire local election one way or the other every election cycle. Here is where Cheshire Democratic candidates might start seeing a light at the end of the tunnel on Election Day (Nov. 5).
A year ago we had our mid-term elections with primaries for both parties held on Aug. 14, 2018. In order to vote in a Democratic primary, you need to be a registered Democrat and to vote in a Republican primary you need to be a registered Republican. Typically, in order to vote in a primary, many Democrat-leaning or Republican-leaning Unaffiliated voters will switch to Democrat or Republican. Last year, at one point with about a week to go before the primary, the Unaffiliated switch to a party favored Democrats 4-1.
When you add in the increase in Democratic registered voters, could we be seeing a perfect storm brewing here? I think so.
At the risk of repeating myself, I think this is important for Cheshire Democrats to grasp. While getting Dem-leaning Unaffiliateds to come out and vote is important, if you look at the chart below, especially the current numbers, if the majority of Democrats came out to vote they would make a huge difference in Cheshire on Election Day.
CHESHIRE VOTER REGISTRATION NUMBERS
Dems Rep. Unaff. Other Total
Oct. 1, 2019 5,405 4,895 8,629 265 19,194
Sept. 3, 2019 5,377 4,896 8,619 263 19,155
Aug. 23, 2019 5,371 4,894 8,608 264 19,137
Aug. 6, 2019 5,352 4,890 8,593 262 19,096
Aug. 2, 2019 5,347 4,895 8,584 262 19,088
Aug. 2, 2018 5,152 4,732 8,496 229 18,609
Aug. 5, 2014 4,421 4,135 7,970 124 16,650
From August. 2, 2018 to Aug. 2, 2019, there was an increase of 195 Democratic voters, 163 Republicans and an increase of 88 Unaffiliateds. More recent increases are slight but do reflect the Democratic trend. From Aug. 6 to Aug. 23, there was an increase of 19 registered Democrats and only four Republicans. The interesting item is between Sept. 3 and Oct. 1 the Republicans actually lost one registered voter.
The numbers don’t lie. But to make the numbers work to turn Cheshire red to blue, Democrats and Dem-leaning Unaffiliateds need to get out and vote.
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter for the New Haven Register for 34 years.