MIDDLEBURY, Conn (WTNH) — Ten thousand Donald Trump campaign signs came into the “Victory Office” in Middlebury Thursday night. By Friday at noon, the Republican party’s Connecticut headquarters had given almost all of them away, destined for front lawns all over the state.
“I’ve been hunting these down for two weeks now and I finally got them,” said Kathleen Latoure, after loading the 100 signs she and her husband collected for their Sprague neighbors.
“This is the first time I’ve ever offered to make calls from home,” said Latoure. “I’ve been involved in presidential politics but I’m much more so this year.”
Sprague is one of Connecticut’s small towns that has seen an incremental, but steady shift toward Republican presidential votes in the last 20 years, according to an analysis of election result by News 8.
From 1996 to 2012, nearly 20 percent more Sprague voters have made the switch to the Republican candidate.
Sprague is a very small community. On average, only 1,439 voters have cast a ballot. In 2012, Connecticut counted 1.5 million votes. The measured switch happening in Sprague, though, is happening in small towns across the state.
Could that be shifting the other way? 76 Connecticut towns have seen a double digit in the number of Republican votes cast. Torrington is one of them, with more and more Republican voters coming out every year. Republican Town Committee Chair Gregg Cogswell says that momentum is continuing this year.
“I think it’s brought some people that we wouldn’t normally wouldn’t see in other years,” said Cogswell. “I don’t know if that’s because it’s not your traditional candidate running or because it’s a message of we need to change the way the country is going.”
Before Republicans get too excited, the reality is that Connecticut and has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, helping to elect George H.W. Bush. Since then, Connecticut has been consistently Democratic. Political scientist Arthur Paulson does not see that changing in 2016. Small towns cannot match the Democratic votes coming from cities like Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven.
The Connecticut divide not unique. It is a microcosm, said Paulson, of what is being seen across the United States: Rural and urban political views are splitting further apart.
“I do see the difference between our rural towns and center cities vote becoming greater,” said Paulson. “That will continue to be the case.”
In political terms, nothing lasts forever. From the 1890’s to the 1930’s, the Northeast corridor was a Republican stronghold. The same region can now say the same for Democratic politicians. That could change again.
“Actually, we’re at a point where some turning point could happen and the Trump campaign could be a stimulus to that.”