Can Republicans Pick Up Elizabeth Esty’s US House Seat?

Democrats are riding a 25-seat winning streak in Connecticut – the third best run for the party across the country over the last half-century

Embattled Connecticut U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty announced on Monday that she would not seek a fourth term – a result of mounting pressure that she resign or not run for reelection due to her handling of domestic violence allegations against her former chief of staff.

Esty’s 5th Congressional District is the most competitive in the state and offers a rare chance for northeastern Republicans to gain ground this November in a region where they are likely going to shed several seats with vulnerable incumbents and open districts in states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and possibly Maine.

The 5th CD has been home to two of the three U.S. House contests in Connecticut that have been decided by single digits out of the 15 elections that have been held since new district lines went into effect in 2012.

Esty won by 3.3 points in an open seat race against State Senator Andrew Roraback in 2012 and by 7.4 points against Mark Greenberg as a freshman in 2014. [Representative Jim Hines’ 7.5-point win in 2014 in the 4th CD over former State Senator Dan Debicella was the third race decided by less than 10 points].

The Nutmeg State’s 5th CD, which Hillary Clinton carried by just 4.1 points against Donald Trump, has also been home to the most narrowly decided U.S. House race in each of the last three cycles, with Esty’s 16.0-point victory over Clay Cope the closest contest for the office in the state in 2016.

Esty’s departure from the race comes just over two months ahead of the June 12th primary filing deadline with engineer and former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos the current Republican frontrunner as other candidates from both parties are expected to enter the race.

Considering her district has been the most competitive in the state, Esty not surprisingly led her delegation in fundraising this cycle with $1.2 million raised through the end of 2017.

If Republicans can pull off an upset in the open seat race this November, they will put an end to the second largest Democratic U.S. House winning streak in the country.

Connecticut Democrats have won 25 consecutive races since the 2008 cycle, second only to the remarkable run of 110 straight wins in neighboring Massachusetts dating back to 1996.

The transition of Connecticut’s congressional delegation from purple to deep blue has been decisive and swift, with the GOP winning three of the state’s five seats as late as the Election of 2004.

Now, however, Democrats are in the midst of the second largest and longest partisan winning streak for the office by either party in Connecticut since the birth of the modern two-party system in the late 1820s.

Democrats have yet to match the 38 straight victories claimed by Republicans across eight election cycles from 1894 through 1908.

Prior to this current streak, Connecticut Democrats had never swept every congressional race in the state for more than one consecutive cycle. Democrats had previously swept the state’s U.S. House races during the 1836, 1842, and 1852 cycles (against the Whigs) and in 1912, 1936, 1940, 1958, and 1964 (against the GOP).

Now the party has done so in five and are eying a sixth in what should be a cycle with friendly national partisan winds at their backs.

The Northeast, of course, has become increasingly Democratic-friendly territory in congressional races.

Six of the seven states in which Democrats hold all U.S. House seats are located in the Northeast region: Massachusetts (nine seats), Connecticut (five), New Hampshire (two), Rhode Island (two), Vermont (at-large), and Delaware (at-large, though sometimes counted as a southern state). Hawaii is the only other state with an all-Democratic delegation.

The 25 consecutive Democratic wins in Connecticut ranks as the 20th best state for the party since its formation in 1828 and marks just the third state to notch 25 or more straight wins in the last half-century along with Massachusetts (1996-present; 110 seats) and West Virginia (1982-1998; 32 seats).

The 5th CD will still be Democratic-favored in 2018 with the GOP’s best hope perhaps to have a strong showing at the top of the ticket in the gubernatorial race, with exiting Democratic Governor Dan Malloy suffering through one of the worst approval ratings in the country at just 23 percent according to a late 2017 Morning Consult poll.

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1 Comment on "Can Republicans Pick Up Elizabeth Esty’s US House Seat?"

  1. 1. Dating violence, and/or workplace violence – to say nothing of alleged death threats – seem a more accurate characterization of the situation than “domestic” violence, regarding the former chief of staff of Esty (he and the victim, also a former subordinate of Esty, have never cohabitated or engaged to be married, per public records).
    2. Aside from the strength of the R ticket of the gubernatorial race, the presence or absence of Esty herself in office (when the leaves begin to fall) may well be the biggest factor in the likelihood of pick-up by the party; her obstinacy in finishing out her current term just might hand the seat over to the party of “Spanky”, given the highly competitive character of the “Northwest” seat.

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