Connecticut joined the United States in January 1788 and has participated in all 56 presidential elections.
The current main rivalry between Democrats and Republicans has a history that goes back to the election of 1856. Prior to that date, other major national parties included the Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, and the Whigs; however, the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in the spring of 1854 fired up anti-slavery sentiment in the North and led to the birth of the Republican Party and the death of the Whig Party in that same year.
Only 80,325 Connecticut residents — all men — cast votes in the presidential election of 1856. In Connecticut, Republican candidate John C. Fremont beat Democrat James Buchanan — our only bachelor president — 42,715 to 34,995. Know-Nothing candidate and former President Millard Fillmore of Ohio garnered 2,615 votes. Republican candidates for president — including Abe Lincoln twice — won six of the next seven elections in Connecticut. Additionally, in the 60-year period from 1896-1956, Republican candidates won in Connecticut in 12 of the 16 presidential elections.
In the 1912 election nearly 190,000 votes were cast in Connecticut. Democrat and former Middletown resident Woodrow Wilson carried the state despite winning only 39 percent of the vote; Republican William Howard Taft collected 68,324 votes while independent candidate Teddy Roosevelt received 34,129 votes and Socialist Eugene V. Debs got 10,056 votes.
In the 100 years since former Wesleyan University football coach Woodrow Wilson was first elected in 1912, Connecticut voters have accurately picked the president in 18 of 25 presidential elections. Overall, in the 39 elections involving Democrats vs. Republicans since 1856, Connecticut voters have voted for the winner 29 times. Though Connecticut is generally regarded as a "Blue" state, Republicans have actually won 23 of the 39 elections in which Democrats and Republicans have been the headliners.
Another interesting statistic concerning Connecticut residents in 2012 vs. 1912 is the fact that over 200,000 new Connecticut voters have registered since January 1st of this year. That's more than the total of people who voted in Connecticut in the presidential election of 1912! In fact, there are 2,089,311 registered voters in the state this year. That includes 767,693 Democrats, 430,439 Republicans, and an astonishing 872,243 independents! The important role that independents play in Connecticut elections cannot be overstated.
From a larger, regional perspective, an examination of the voting habits of people in the six New England states since 1856 yields interesting results. Every single New England state has a history of voting more for Republican presidential candidates than Democratic presidential candidates in the last 39 elections.
Even traditionally Democratic states such as Rhode Island and Massachusetts have voted for Republicans the majority of the time. Both states have voted Republican in 21 of the last 39 elections. Ironically, the most reliably Republican New England state from an historical perspective — Vermont — is arguably the bluest of all the blue states in recent elections! In fact, Vermont has elected a Socialist candidate to the Senate in recent years. Vermont has voted Republican in 33 of the last 39 presidential elections.
Speaking of Vermont, one of that state's most venerable senators, George Aiken, would be appalled at the cost of running both for senator and for president. By the end of this year's campaign, Linda McMahon of Connecticut will have spent close to $100,000,000 in two senatorial campaigns. Recent estimates place the cost of running for the presidency this year at close to a billion dollars for each candidate. In Aiken's last campaign for the Senate in 1968, the beloved senator spent a total of $17.09 in his successful re-election bid — well under a penny per every vote cast!